Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced on social media that the F-35 has been selected as the successor to the existing fleet of F-16 jets.
Singapore has followed the F-35 programme since joining as an observer in 2004.
The US offered Singapore participation as a ‘Security Cooperation’ participant during the System Development and Demonstration phase of the programme, allowing it access to project briefings.
The Ministry of Defense announced in a statement that the Republic of Singapore Air Force would first procure an unspecified “small number” of F-35 jets for full evaluation of their capabilities and sustainability before deciding on a full fleet.
In late 2013, Singapore said they were in “no particular hurry” to buy the F-35, and that they were focusing on upgrading their F-16s in the near-term.
It was speculated that Singapore has specific interest in acquiring the F-35B STOVL variant due to the use of road bases adjacent to airfields, most shorter than 8,000 ft (2,400 m).
It was also speculated in 2013 that Singapore could be buying up to 100 F-35 jets however any initial buy will likely be very small.
The F-35 was conceived from the start of the project as having participation from many countries, most of which would both contribute to the manufacture of the aircraft and procure it for their own armed forces.
While the United States is the primary customer and financial backer, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark have agreed to contribute $4.375 billion toward the development costs of the programme.