The Minister of Defense for Singapore, Ng Eng Hen, has shed some light on the acquisition of the F-35 for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
During a parliamentary speech on March 1, the defense minister announced that Singapore plans to place a firm order for four F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters that will include an option for a further eight aircraft. No mention was made of which type of F-35 variant would be purchased, though the short takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) “B” version would make the most sense for the land-deprived city-state.
Earlier, in January, the defense minister announced via social media the long-expected selection by Singapore of the aircraft following the completion of a technical evaluation by the RSAF and Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).
Singapore will issue a letter of request (LOR) to the U.S. government, thereby formally kicking off the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) process. Once the aircraft is acquired and brought into service, Singapore will be the first Southeast Asian nation to operate the fighter, fielding two American-sourced fighters – the F-35 and the F-15SG – as its combat aircraft arm from 2030 and beyond.
In Parliament, I showed this infographic of the Next-Generation SAF of 2030 and beyond. This full complement of air, land and sea assets will be able to defend Singapore for another generation. pic.twitter.com/q9VPlOGu2m
— Ng Eng Hen (@Ng_Eng_Hen) March 1, 2019
Should the FMS process progress as expected, a second batch purchase mirroring the initial request (four units, plus an eight-unit option) would likely follow at a later date.
The goal of bringing the F-35 into the RSAF fleet reflects Singapore’s long-held security approach of striving for a qualitative military-technology edge over regional neighbors in order to achieve and sustain deterrence capability.