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Singapore to acquire eight F-35A fighters in addition to 12 F-35B variants

A Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft takes off with a payload of GBU-12 bombs during an exercise in 2021. Singapore is procuring eight F-35A airframes in addition to the 12 F-35Bs announced earlier. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Singapore will procure eight conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variants of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft in addition to the 12 F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) versions it is acquiring.

The matter was confirmed by Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen during a parliamentary address on 28 February and through statements issued via his and the Ministry of Defence's (MINDEF's) official social media channels on the same day.

“Globally, there are close to 2,500 F35s on order, a healthy pipeline. Because of that, the F-35 is now priced more competitively, comparable to the F-15EX. Its battlefield successes have prompted more countries to jump onboard the programme. MINDEF will capitalise on this window of opportunity to accelerate our F-35 programme,” Ng said.

“The F-35As are designed for greater endurance and can carry payloads of higher capacity, complementing the F-35Bs. After the F-16s retire from mid-2030s, the RSAF [Republic of Singapore Air Force] will operate the F-35As, F-35Bs, and F-15SGs to perform the full suite of missions required to defend our skies,” he added.

Singapore's intention to be the fourth Asia-Pacific country to operate the F-35 – after Australia, Japan, and South Korea – came into the spotlight in 2020 after the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) disclosed that the city-state had requested an initial batch of four F-35B STOVL airframes with the option to acquire an additional eight.

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