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.