Singapore has announced for the first time that it has operationally deployed the MBDA Aster 30 air defense system that it had ordered at the end of summer 2013. This is the first time that the ground-launched version of the Aster medium-range missile is deployed by a non-European nation.
Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen confirmed the delivery of the system in a speech to Parliament’s defense committee on March 2.
Ng Eng Hen had first announced the Aster’s acquisition decision in September 2013 to replace the aging American Hawk system acquired more than thirty years ago.
At the time, replying to a Parliamentary question, said “I would like to announce today that the SAF will also be acquiring the ASTER-30 Surface-to-Air Missile System. This missile defence system against airborne threats is used by advanced militaries such as France and Italy. The ASTER-30's capabilities are many times more potent than our current I-HAWK ground-based air defence system.
“The ASTER will allow us to engage multiple threats simultaneously and from a longer distance. It will complement the [Israel Aerospace Industries] SPYDER, which we have already operationalised - it is a mobile, shorter-range, quick reaction ground-based air defence system - and together, they will provide a layered air defence shield.
A fact sheet on the Aster 30 was published at the same time on the Singapore defense ministry’s website.
Also at the time, the CEO of European missile maker MBDA, Antoine Bouvier, noted that the Aster 30 had been selected over competing American and Israeli systems thanks to its "performance" and "price."
“Our skies will be better protected with advanced weapon systems,” Ng said March 2, adding that “We also recently added the ASTER-30 surface-to-air missile system.” The Aster 30 is also included in an infographic illustrating the most capable in-service weapon systems.
Although the Aster 30 was only recently delivered, it would likely already be part of the Air Force Island Air Defense (IAD) system of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). The IAD network, covering the whole of Singapore (42 kilometers long and 23 kilometers wide), connects all RSAF weapons and air defense sensors, including fighters, air-to-surface systems and radar.
The Aster 30 missile system is operated by a single unit, 163 Squadron.