Singapore gets carrots to buy French
Warplane (03 Nov 2003)
THE French government is offering Singapore the chance to jointly
develop a new radar system if the air force opts for the warplane
Rafale when it decides on a new fighter aircraft.
The Rafale, made by French giant Dassault Aviation, is one of
three aircraft shortlisted by the Defence Ministry (Mindef) to
replace its ageing fleet of A-4 Super Skyhawks. The deal is said
to be worth more than US$1 billion (S$1.75 billion).
The other two candidates are the Boeing F-15T Strike Eagle from
the United States, and the Typhoon, offered by a consortium of
aircraft makers from Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.
In an interview, the French Ministry of Defence's strategic affairs
director Marc Perrin de Brichambaut said: 'It's true that if you
get involved in the Rafale, the development of the new radar is
to be done jointly.
'He was referring to the advanced RBE-2 radar found on the fighter.
Other incentives would include greater access to air force training
areas in France, added the policymaker who is one of the French
defence ministry's top civil servants.
If Mindef goes for the Rafale, it will come after the order for
six stealth frigates from French shipyard, Direction des Constructions
Navales International (DCN), in early 2000 under a multi-billion-dollar
The first 110m-long frigate is now in an advanced stage of construction
at a DCN yard in Lorient, in north-west France. It is expected
to arrive in Singapore in 2005.
Five others are being built by local shipyard, Singapore Technologies
Marine, in Jurong.
Defence engineers from France and Singapore are now working on
integrating the different weapon systems on board the frigate.
The stealth warships will be armed with guns, anti-ship and anti-aircraft
missiles. Each ship will also carry a naval helicopter tasked
with hunting and destroying submarines.
Aside from cooperation on the frigate, defence engineers from
both countries have also worked together on radar technology,
chemical and biological defence and underwater technologies.
Both countries are developing a new 'legal and procedural framework'
to protect sensitive weapons technology developed jointly, said
Mr de Brichambaut.
'Our defence relations are entering a new phase where we will
actually share work in long-term cooperation projects, and this
needs to be built in an environment of legal and other considerations.'
French defence officials and policy advisers also value the intelligence
exchanges with Singapore, as it helps them understand the security
situation in South-east Asia, which aids in their counter-terrorism
planning, he added.
'Because of your geographical location, you are hugely aware
of developments on a broad scale in South-east Asia and we would
like to hear Singapore's point of view on regional developments,'
said Mr de Brichambaut.
The planned visit this month by Dr Tony Tan, Deputy Prime Minister
and Coordinating Minister for Security and Defence, is expected
to deepen counter-terrorism cooperation with France.