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Singapore to place initial buy of four F-35 JSFs for further evaluation

01 March 2019
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Singapore’s defence minister Ng Eng Hen receives a briefing on the CTOL F-35A at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, in December 2015. The country has announced that it will seek an initial purchase of four F-35 JSFs of an undisclosed variant for further evaluation. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

Singapore will place an initial order for four F-35 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) for further testing, with the option of acquiring a subsequent eight, defence minister Ng Eng Hen announced in his Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) Committee of Supply debate speech in parliament on 1 March.

Ng told parliament that that MINDEF will issue a Letter of Request (LOR) to the US government, although he did not specify when. According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the LOR is an action that formally begins the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process.

"Our LOR will request an initial acquisition of four F-35s, with the option of a subsequent eight if we decide to proceed," he said, without revealing whether these would be the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A or the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B variants.

"As required by US law for foreign military sales, the US Congress must approve the sale of F-35s," he added.

Ng noted that the life-cycle costs of a JSF fleet - albeit without mentioning the specific numbers or platform variants that will be acquired - will be similar to the expenditure for the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) F-15SG programme. He also pointed out that the current unit price of the F-35 platform, which ranges from USD90-115 million per aircraft, is comparable to that of the Boeing F-15SG.

"The Defence Science and Technology Agency's (DSTA's) assessment is that now is an opportune time to put in Singapore's request," Ng added.

The latest statement comes after MINDEF announced on 18 January that it had identified the F-35 as the "most suitable replacement" for the RSAF's ageing F-16C/D multirole combat aircraft following a five-year technical evaluation by the RSAF and DSTA, which is the country's defence procurement authority.

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