Singapore is expected to acquire “a small number” of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) after it identified the aircraft as the “most suitable replacement” for the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF’s) ageing F-16C/D multirole combat aircraft, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) announced on 18 January.
The announcement comes after a five-year technical evaluation by the RSAF and the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), which is the country’s defence procurement authority.
However, the ministry stopped short of declaring a confirmed buy, instead noting that further evaluation would be necessary before it proceeds with a full-scale acquisition.
“The technical evaluation also concluded that the RSAF should first purchase a small number of F-35 JSFs for a full evaluation of their capabilities and suitability before deciding on a full fleet,” MINDEF said in its statement, although it did not disclose whether it would be acquiring the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A or the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B.
“In the next phase, MINDEF will discuss details with relevant parties in the US before confirming its decision to acquire the F-35 JSFs for Singapore’s defence capabilities,” it added.
The RSAF is believed to operate about 20 F-16C and 40 F-16D Block 52/52+ aircraft, which were acquired in the 1990s and believed to be optimised with Israeli-built electronic countermeasures (ECM) systems. The D variants are optimised for the electronic warfare (EW) role. The service also operates 40 Boeing F-15SG multirole combat aircraft.
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