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Singapore to acquire eight additional F-35Bs

The Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-15SG and F-16D flying alongside the Royal Australian Air Force's F-35Bs during a multilateral exercise. (Singapore Ministry of Defence)

The Singapore government is exercising the option to acquire eight more short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL)-capable F-35B fighter aircraft, in addition to the initial four airframes of the type that it has already signed for in 2019.

The matter was disclosed by the country's Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen during a parliamentary session on 24 February. He was speaking during a Committee of Supply debate session following the country's budget statement for 2023.

Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) first announced in March 2019 that it would purchase four F-35Bs, with the option to purchase eight more. The initial airframes will be deployed in the US for training and evaluation when the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) receives them in 2026.

“Following an extensive and robust evaluation, MINDEF will proceed to exercise the option and purchase eight additional F-35Bs, which is necessary to enable the Republic of Singapore Air Force to strengthen its next-generation capabilities as part of the Singapore Armed Forces [SAF] 2040 transformation,” said Ng.

“The F-35Bs will replace the ageing F-16s, which will progressively draw down after reaching obsolescence from mid-2030s,” he added.

According to Ng, this decision was reached following an extensive evaluation process that was conducted by the country's F-35 project team, which comprises personnel from the RSAF and Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).

The team was given access to F-35 users-only information and facilities to conduct a series of “comprehensive and robust evaluations”, including technical and engineering discussions with the manufacturer and other F-35 users.

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