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to power sources available to run the system,
as demand needs to be balanced against what
soldiers can carry. One solution is dynamic power
management, whereby power turns off and on in
a more intelligent manner.
Trial systems were based on a Windows XP
platform, but commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)
components were not always rugged enough in
harsh environments. Systems overheated and
overloaded. Wherever possible, ACSM uses
COTS items at the developmental stage before
customising them for military requirements. It
was also discovered the original HMD hindered
mobility and the aiming of weapons so the
current HMD offers a full peripheral view.
Initially ACMS was going to integrate load
carriage and ballistic protection but this was
found to be impractical because of Singapore’s
climatic conditions. These aspects were separated
and the resulting integrated Load-Bearing Vest
(iLBV) includes a hydration bladder and the
ability to house protection plates. Thus, modular
protection can be selected according to the
mission and threat level.
At the Singapore Air Show in February
2012, ST Engineering showed two ACMS
versions - the standard system and ACMS Lite
for future applications. What differentiates
it is the latest ARM processor and mobile
communications technology. It includes a
smartphone portable device providing mesh-
networking communications and fabric cabling
integrated into the load-bearing vest to give more
reliability and a low-power solution. ACMS Lite
is designed for use by team members at lower
Another new piece of hardware is the 500g
HELMIS uncooled head-mounted thermal viewer
from STELOP, an ST Electronics subsidiary.
Able to operate in mixed lighting conditions or
total darkness, it is at the prototype stage and will
be tested with ACMS. It is helmet- or headband-
mounted and offers a four-hour operating time.
There is no point in supplying new hardware
if it does not alter the way
soldiers fight, and ACMS
is certainly achieving
this even though it will
take time for soldiers to
become fully conversant.
orders were disseminated
in a hierarchal fashion
through voice commands.
However, ACMS provides a
mesh bubble concept where
everyone has situational
awareness of themselves
and the enemy, and data is
becoming more important
than voice. Introduction of ACMS is affecting
tactics and procedures as the system is further
exploited. For example, movement can be more
distributed because of superior topographical
knowledge. Since Singapore has a small military
without significant combat experience, it has
leveraged lessons learned from countries like
Australia, the UK and USA.
Handling bandwidth and power consumption
demands remains a challenge, and the programme
is trying to move away from the commercial
2.4GHz band and to improve encryption security.
Experimentation is a continuous process and
technical areas being examined are integrating
unmanned sensors that give live video images.
The SAF wants to increase connectivity to
allow up to 200 nodes. It is also exploring fuel
cell technology and wireless links between
subsystems such as the helmet and weapon. They
are also looking at a voice command smart vest.
Sun Tzu wrote: “If you know the enemy and
know yourself, your victory will not stand in
doubt.” As can be seen, innovative Singapore
is well on its way to producing the ultimate
digitised war-fighter. v
The 5kg Skyblade III is a mini-UAV from ST Aerospace
possessing an 8km range and endurance of 60+ minutes.
In essence, every soldier becomes a sensor, and every sensor is
networked to give a beyond-visual-range capacity and local superiority
The 150m-range Forward Sensor System (FSS) is a mobile reconnaissance
robot from ST Electronics that provides live video feed. (Gordon Arthur)
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