Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering) today announced that it’s land systems arm has signed an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd (IAI) to set up a joint venture company (JV) in Singapore. ST Engineering and IAI shall each hold a 50% share of the JV.

The JV, named Proteus Advanced Systems Pte Ltd, will leverage the strengths and track record of its parent companies to market and sell advanced naval missile systems, including a new 5 GEN anti-ship missile system called ‘Blue Spear’. According to sources associated with the new JV, Blue Spear (5G SSM) introduces an advanced and novel approach that addresses the challenges of the modern naval arena for years to come. The Blue Spear anti-ship missile is co-developed by ST Engineering and IAI under a development agreement signed between the two countries a few years ago. Based on this work-sharing agreement ST Engineering’s role includes design, development, and production of major subsystems like the booster motor and warhead.

The South-East Asia region and, specifically Singapore, is considered a rapidly growing market for submarines and naval vessels. The JV addresses this potential with mature products that can be adapted to meet specific customer needs. The Proteus JV Company leverages the strengths of both partners, to offer highly competitive and advanced defense systems.

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A cutaway of a Gabriel 5 surface-surface anti-ship missile.

[wlm_ismember]The Singapore Navy currently operates the U.S. Made Harpoon missiles on its 12 surface ships six Formidable-class frigates and six aging Victory-class corvettes. The Victory-Class vessels are due for replacement between 2025 and 2030. These vessels are could be equipped with a new type of missile replacing the AGM-84C Harpoon Block 1B missiles currently used on the Victory. While the Block II version of Harpoon has a maximum range in excess of 150 nm, the range of Block IB (RGM-84C) in use by the Singapore navy is much shorter, making the weapon unsuitable for the future naval fight.

By 2021 and 2022 Singapore expects to receive the first two Invincible-class submarines currently under construction in Germany. Like its predecessors, Archer and Challenger class subs, the Invincible will use 16 and 21-inch torpedo tubes, but will also have a multipurpose airlock that can be configured to carry vertically launched weapons such as an anti-ship or land-attack cruise missile.

[/wlm_ismember]As Singapore relies on U.S. RGM-84C Harpoon today, Israel also used the Harpoon to arm its naval vessels. However, with the introduction of advanced versions of Gabriel, namely Gabriel 5, the Israel Navy has converted some of its vessels to this weapon. Israeli anti-ship missiles were also successful by the Finish Navy, for the upgrading of Hamina-Class fast attack missile boats.

As an advanced attack missile, Gabriel 5 is designed to penetrate modern target’s defenses, both soft- and hard-kill countermeasures. It was designed with sophisticated electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) dealing with chaff, advanced decoys, and active ECM. Gabriel 5 and Barak 8 both developed by IAI, were developed by IAI’s Missile, Systems, and Space Group as part of a combined, offensive, and defensive naval system for the Israeli navy and for export.

As new weapons deliveries can be expected only toward the second half of this decade ST Engineering said the setup of the Proteus JV is not expected to have a material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of ST Engineering for the current financial year. By announcing the JV through a commercial agreement between government-owned companies rather than a Government-to-Government agreement, the change looks less dramatic but it certainly represents a strategic change in Singapore’s policy, that until now, has kept its close relations with Israel under a veil of secrecy.