Singapore Buys More F-35 Lightnings

RAAF F-35A. Singapore Mindef.

SHAH ALAM: The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is accelerating its F-35 programme, buying eight F-35As – conventional take off and take off variant – in addition to 12 F-35Bs – STOL – already on order, joining the US, Italy and Japan in operating both variants.

The eight F-35As will arrive around 2030, two years after the last four B models are delivered. The first four B model is expected to be delivered in 2026.

RSAF future fighter fleet. Singapore MINDEF.

In announcing the procurement in Parliament on February 27, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the F-35 is now priced more competitively, comparable to the F-15EX.
“Its battlefield successes have increased demand, with around 2,500 on order globally. MINDEF will accelerate our F-35 programme to acquire 8 F-35As, on top of the previously announced 12 F-35Bs.

Singapore Straits Times report said:

Dr Ng noted that Mindef and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) may have to deprioritise other projects to buy during this window of opportunity. “But we have done our calculations, and we think this is the best time to put in the order for F-35As,” he said.

When the F-35s become operational, they will put the RSAF “in the premier league”, he added.

They will replace the RSAF’s ageing F-16 jets, which have been in service since 1998.

The F-16s have progressively been upgraded with modern sensors and weaponry to keep them operationally ready until the mid-2030s.

Together with the F-15SGs – which attained full operational capability in 2013 – the air force will have a fleet that is capable of performing the full suite of missions required to defend Singapore’s skies, said Dr Ng. “This will be a capable air force, above all, to protect our skies,” he said.

–Malaysian Defence

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11 Comments

  1. SG can afford the F35 as the exchange rate is SGD1.35 to 1 USD. Good for SG armed forces. With layered aid defence and modern homemade weapons, they are a force to be reckoned with. It’s such a shame, we being a bigger countries with more resources can’t even complete our LCS on time.

  2. My comment :

    This is basically something that is outside of the original SAF and RSAF plan. Something that they decided on the fly as the window of opportunity presented itself.

    Their original plans was to have only F-35B and F-15SG to 2040. They are supposed to receive all 12 F-35B first before deciding on buying follow-on batches, with the budget for them supposedly allocated 2028 and beyond.

    As the prices become lower (now similar to a F-15EX it seems) they decide to put their money down on 8x F-35A now. Why?
    – getting the F-35A at its lowest price so far and at a high SGD exchange rate. F-35B is considerably more expensive than the F-35A.
    – Able to get the aircraft delivered by 2030.

    So that is what they are going to get. Even for a well budgeted force like Singapore, sudden changes in procurement like this will mean some tradeoffs in other aspects.

    So what are delayed to get these 8x F-35A?

    – C-130 replacement. This is supposed to be replaced in 2030. Now it will soldier-on for a bit more. Some RSAF C-130 will probably reach 70 years old before retired.

    – F-50 MPA replacement. This will also be delayed.

    As for us, we have been presented with similar window of opportunity many times before, but our rigid bureucracy means none of it we are able to exploit to our advantage.

  3. Of course if you invest 3% of your GDP every year. But I don’t envy them having the F35. Just 50% or so operational availability.

  4. ” Just 50% or so operational availability ”

    The Israelis beg to differ. They had maintained 80+% operational availability throughout their barbaric campaign on Gaza.

  5. Hulubalang math is extremely weird. If RSAF get the cheaper F35A rather than F35b then instead of losing money for others programs they are getting more money to spend for other programmes

  6. @ darthzaft

    That is the real world math

    1) there is already plans for this year and the next few years, that does not have any F-35A in them.

    2) F-35B plan is to buy additional aircraft after 2029. The budget for additional F-35B will be 2029 and beyond, not now in 2024

    3) now and the next few years the original plan was to pay for C-130 and Fokker 50 replacements. As now the money is taken for F-35A, which is totally not planned prior, those requirements now needs to be moved further to the right.

  7. Quite interesting they went with A model instead ad their infographics highlight Bs STOVL function. Perhaps a portend of Bs being used onboard their MRCV, and As being based on land?

  8. This “window of opportunity” presented itself may be due to US DoD budget cuts, ordering less F-35As than projected, allowing RSAF to take over the production slots and getting the fighter jets earlier.

  9. Those 6x MRCV (Multi Role Combat Vessel) would be 7000-8000 ton Frigate.

    The Landing Ship Tank Replacement is the supposed mini aircraft carrier to carry those F-35Bs

  10. Hasnan “Just 50% or so operational availability.”

    The high sustainment and low availability is a result of utilising cutting edge non matured technology that haven’t been ‘mass manufacture’ yet is simply the price to get qualitative advantage.

    For countries facing a high risk of protracted warfare (which neither us or SG are at risk off no matter how much someone beat the drum) against a technologically challenged opponents f35s may be detrimental to one goals. But if your opponents is technologically competence then the high sustainment and low availability is worth it as cheap cheerful and plentiful stuff are just simply unsurvivable.

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