SOARING ABOVE THE REST
To replace the Searcher-class unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that has been in service since 1994, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) acquired the Heron 1 UAV, which features state-of-the-art avionics, detection capabilities and communications systems, as well as a fully automatic take-off and landing capability. Its longer flight endurance and better surveillance capabilities provide the Singapore Armed Forces with better situational awareness in the field and enhance mission effectiveness. DSTA managed the acquisition and integration of the UAV, delivering it to the RSAF at the inauguration ceremony in May 2012.
PROVIDING GROUND CONTROL
The Heron 1 UAV is operated from a Ground Control Station (GCS) which allows the UAV pilot to send control signals to the platform. The GCS also undertakes the processing, retrieval and storage of flight information and real-time images captured by the UAV.
DSTA broke new ground with the GCS and the datalink system by building up the capabilities incrementally in a systematic manner. At the start, the team negotiated for the local work share to develop the GCS software. This allowed regular technology insertions to be implemented in tandem with advancements in technology locally and cost effectively.
DEPLOYING LIMITED MANPOWER RESOURCE EFFECTIVELY
In the area of manpower deployment, the UAV pilot and payload operator were previously segregated roles which required separate training. To achieve greater flexibility in employing the limited manpower resource, the DSTA team proposed to integrate the two roles through a unified flight and payload training programme. This solution was made possible through advancements in the flight and payload features such as the automatic take-off and landing, and the fly-by waypoint capabilities.