SHAH ALAM: Singapore to buy F-35s. Singapore Defense Ministry today announced that it has identified the F-35 as the most suitable replacement for its fleet of F-16s. It says with the F-16s to be retired soon after 2030 the decision to acquire the F-35 – likely to be concluded within one year – will give the RSAF ample time to prepare for the arrival of the new jet.
It says that it will buy a small batch of F-35s first before deciding on a full fleet later on. It did not say how many or which variants it will be buying.
The official release:
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) have completed their technical evaluation to select the next generation fighter to replace its F-16s. The F-16s will have to retire soon after 2030 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has been identified as the most suitable replacement to maintain the RSAF’s capabilities.
However, 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. 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.
The statement from Dr Ng Eng Hen, the Singapore Defense Minister.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s F-16s that were in service since 1998 will have to retire soon after 2030, even after their mid-life upgrades. That’s not very far away, just over 10 years, to acquire their replacement and, just as important, to build the logistic support and train pilots individually and as a fleet to guard our skies.
Happy to report that DSTA Defence Science and Technology Agency and RSAF have completed their technical evaluation for the replacement. It took longer than expected – more than five years – as they had to go through in detail specifications and needs, which they could only do after developmental flight testing of the F-35s was completed in early 2018. They have decided that the F-35 would be the most suitable replacement fighter.
Our agencies will now have to speak to their US counterparts to move the process forward, which may take 9 – 12 months before a decision is made. Even then, we want to procure a few planes first, to fully evaluate the capabilities of the F-35 before deciding on the acquisition of a full fleet. We must prepare well and cater enough time to replace our F-16s.
Singapore decision on the F-35 was expected, it had been evaluating the JSF since 2004. The delays involving the program is the main reason it had delayed comitting to the stealth fighter until now. Even then it is still cautiously threading ahead not wanting to spend so much for the time being.
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