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Singapore will purchase F-35A in addition to the previously ordered F-35B

The Ministry of Defence of Singapore has announced that it will order 8 conventional multi-role aircraft Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II in addition to the previously purchased 12 short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft F-35B.

On Wednesday, February 28th, the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Singapore announced through social media that it will order 8 multi-role aircraft Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (Conventional Take-off and Landing, CTOL) to complement the previously purchased 12 Short Take-off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft F-35B.

Photo: USAF

The ministry has published information regarding the planned defense budget for the fiscal year 2024, which will amount to 20.2 billion SGD (15 billion USD), constituting 2.8% of the GDP. This marks a 2.5% increase compared to the previous year. For comparison, in 1998, it was as high as 5.1% of the GDP, but in real terms, significantly lower, as Singapore was a poorer country at that time. Interestingly, the majority of these funds, totaling 17.04 billion SGD (12.66 billion USD), will be allocated to the Air Force (Angkatan Udara Republik Singapura, AURS).

As reported, the steady defense expenditures have led to the deliberate decision involving the mid-life upgrade of the F-16s before they will be gradually phased out from the mid-thirties of the 21st century and replaced by the F-35A/B. It was emphasized that the conventional variant was chosen due to its higher parameters in terms of payload and operational range.

During his speech before the parliament during the budget debate, Singapore’s Minister of Defense, Dr. Ng Eng Hen, stated that the delivery of additional aircraft would occur before 2030.

On February 24, 2023, following the conclusion of the debate on the defense budget for the fiscal year 2023, the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Singapore announced plans to increase the order of F-35B aircraft from 4 to 12 units.

The subsequent aircraft of the F-35 family are part of the Singapore Armed Forces’ modernization program called SAF2040, spread over the next 20 years. Gradual phase-out of the aging 60 F-16C/D Block 52+ from the air force is planned, with their decommission taking place after 2030. They will complement the 40 heavier F-15SG Strike Eagles.

Singapore ordered its first four F-35B aircraft on June 29, 2020. The value of the order was not disclosed, but according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) information from January 9, 2020, the package for this country was priced at up to 2.75 billion USD. The decision to choose the F-35B was made public on January 18, 2019. The delivery of the first four is expected by 2026, and the next eight by 2028.

At that time, a decision was made to purchase a small batch for testing, in order to later make a potential decision regarding the purchase of additional aircraft (the total estimated requirement is 100 aircraft). Singapore intends to utilize the F-35B for operations from highway strips with lengths up to 2400 meters.

On June 4, 2021, the Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times reported that the ordered F-35B aircraft will be stationed in the manufacturer’s country, at the Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith, Arkansas. There will be established the second international training center for F-35 family aircraft, following the one at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. In addition to Singaporeans, Polish and German pilots will also be undergoing training there for their F-35A aircraft.

It is worth mentioning that the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, Michigan, was also considered as the second location, but its candidacy was rejected. Meanwhile, at Ebbing, a maximum of up to 24 F-35 aircraft will be stationed (previously 36 were mentioned), and the United States Air Force (USAF) will build a Full Mission Simulator there.


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