Singapore plans to buy at least four F-35 jets to update its ageing current fleet, the Defence Minister said Friday.

In February 2003, Singapore joined the JSF programme’s System Design and Development Phase, as a Security Co-operation Participant (SCP).

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).

In January 2019, Singapore’s Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen announced that Singapore’s F-16C/Ds would retire “soon after 2030”, and that he was happy to report that the Defence Science and Technology Agency and Republic of Singapore Air Force completed their evaluation and decided on the F-35 to be the most likely aircraft to replace it.

The Ministry of Defense announced in a statement that the Republic of Singapore Air Force would first procure an unspecified “small number” of F-35s for full evaluation of their capabilities and sustainability before deciding on a full fleet.

Now, Singapore’s Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen announced Singapore would procure 4 F-35 aircraft for further evaluation, with an option to procure an additional 8 under the same contract. Ng Eng Hen added that a letter of request would be submitted to the United States in the near future, but did not clarify which variant of the F-35 was to be requested.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told parliament that Singapore “will request an initial acquisition of four F-35s, with the option of a subsequent eight if we decide to proceed”.

Singapore currently operates 60 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52/52+ Fighting Falcons and 40 F-15s. That number includes some F-15SGs, an advanced variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle.


  1. Good. More news for UK plc with a decent share of the work. More will come from Singapore. They need an F35Bs fleet of at least 48 aircraft to supplement and replace older generations of aircraft. They might even opt for some B versions.

    • Good and bad for the UK, good news is more share of work but the fact that the Typhoon is not even considered is bad for the UK. We don’t have enough fast jet orders to keep production going. If we can’t keep production going then we’re more likely to become a Tier 1 partner in future programme run by the US or Europe imo. Its hard to claim you should lead a programme if you have no capability to build fast jets.

    • Hmm. Singapore looking to buy F35Bs. UK looking at Singapore as a possible future naval base. And UK possesses two carriers with not many aircraft to share between them. Could this be a rare example of joined up international military thinking……….

  2. It’s quite an investment if they decided NOT to proceed. 4 aircraft must be over 350m GBP. Why not just lease some aircraft from the USMC and evaluate that way – seems an odd way of doing it

    • The Singapore Government has evaluated and decided some time ago to buy the F-35, however politically they are stating only 4 with an option of an additional 8 for domestic consumption. There was no formal ‘competition’ for this F-16 replacement, so the local media have been pushing the F-35 over the past 24 months with flattering commentary. If you have followed Singapore military sales, you would see it’s just the way they do things. The investment is significant to support the initial 4 jets so they will not do this only to say no later on. There will be further orders for the F-35 later on.
      It would surprise me if they do not chose the ‘B’ variant for all as that allows them to also use their highway system for emergency deployment (maybe after an upgrade to the paving to cope with the heat) as they do already for the F-16. The ‘B’ would also slot in nicely with the regular visiting US (and future UK) carrier task forces.

  3. Why? These jets are amazing but the amount of technical support/ expertise and money needed to keep a couple of squadrons operational is way beyond a small nation like Singapore.

    In terms of China containment we would be better off encouraging these types of nations to buy something way more bang for buck like the Gripen. Numbers matter and these ridiculous small JSF orders are pointless.

    • Why?

      It allows them to dip a toe into the F35 programme a type they will inevitably be buying in numbers in the future. They can work up tactics get their personnel used to operations with the type.

      I wouldn’t worry about them being able to afford it, they might be small but they are very wealthy! They already operate one of the most modern combat fleets in the region consisting of Block 52+ F-16 and F15SG. The already modern F16 Block 52+ are being further upgraded to Block 72. Considering that they don’t need to rush!

    • Tim – in regional terms the Singapore Air Force wont be operating the F35 in isolation,with Japan,Australia and South Korea also in the process of introducing the F35 it seems a logical choice to me,as Fedaykin has said Singapore may be a Small nation but it can certainly afford top-end Military Equipment.


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