The Jones…SG Buys More F-35s

A USMC F-35B landing. US Navy

SHAH ALAM: On the same day, that Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced it had won the FLIT-LCA tender for the RMAF, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced it was buying eight Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter adding to the four it had already procured.

Ng told Singapore parliament that the eight aircraft will be delivered by the end of the decade. The F-35s will replace the Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 fighter jets.

Infographic on SAF plans. Singapore MINDEF

From CNA:

In 2019, Singapore announced the acquisition of an initial four F-35Bs, which are on track for delivery by 2026. The purchase was worth an estimated US$2.75 billion, according to a US government press release.

That deal included an option for eight more F-35 jets. Dr Ng on Friday said the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had decided to exercise the option for the F-35B variant after an extensive evaluation.

“MINDEF and the SAF have concluded that the F-35 is the best choice to meet our defence needs now and in the future,” he told Parliament.

The Defence Ministry has the largest estimated expenditure among the ministries for the 2023 financial year, at S$17.98 billion. This is a 5.6 per cent increase from FY2022. Almost all the money, or about S$17.04 billion, will go to the SAF.

MINDEF does not give detailed cost figures for the acquisition of planes, submarines and Army platforms as these can provide an indication of capabilities.


— Malaysian Defence

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14 Comments

  1. Is it wiser for RMAF to consider getting fifth-gen aircraft (mainly the F-35) within this decade or wait it out until sixth-gen aircraft are available and be an early adopter of such aircraft?

  2. One thing to note that F35 is prioritas sold to US allies and partners of F35 development project. The production lines are fully occupied.
    Even SG Will receive the additional 8 units in 2030.

    RMAF need a stopgap for 4.5 gen MRCA as ID already did with their Rafale/KFX/F15EX. It Will help the pilot transition to 5th gen platform.

    The good news is in 2030s the F35 tech is more mature and the delivery time can be reduced. At the time SG receives this additional units 8 years from now the tech already different.

  3. ubi kentang,

    Even if we bought a batch of 5th gen LO platforms in the near future; are we able to get a AEW platform and other things which are needed in order to fully maximise the capabilities of the jet?

    Whatever we buy should also be in numbers and not penny packets. Again it’s a question of having the cash and the political will to spend it. We also need sufficient LIFTs in order to train pilots.

  4. By 2030. Not in 2030. Can expect a few more batch orders by Sg to receive by 2030. F16V retire in stages from 2030 onward.

  5. SG budget is $17.04Billion, while MY budget is RM 17.7Billion but when convert to USD$ terms it is; USD$12.7Billion vs USD$4Billion.

    That is the intrinsic power of a strong economy, the defence matters will sort itself. Which is why its understandable that our Govt had focused more on building the economy rather than sorting out the defence.

  6. Ubi kentang “Is it wiser for RMAF to consider getting fifth-gen aircraft (mainly the F-35) within this decade or wait it out until sixth-gen aircraft are available and be an early adopter of such aircraft?”

    Being an early adopters does give one privy to a whole lot of economics counter trade, tech transfer & industrial ties in. Which goes a long way into making the costs easier to stomach.

    Joe “That is the intrinsic power of a strong economy”

    Technically it the Intrinsic power of a strong currencies. If we wanted a strong currencies then stop making the money printing machine go brrrrrr, Start exporting more while importing less, start paying more taxes while enjoying lower subsidies, as the currencies increase value a lot of out firm’s particularly one that specializes in low value added activity would go belly up.

    Joe “Which is why its understandable that our Govt had focused more on building the economy rather than sorting out the defence”

    Bilahari Krisnan meanwhile would probably tell you that defense & economics are not mutually exclusive as Defense is part & partial of an economics system. US for example hold a lot of high value added IP and thus where & whome can get licensing to manufacturers such IP is up to whimp & fancy of uncle Sam.

  7. “Which is why its understandable that our Govt had focused more on building the economy rather than sorting out the defence”‘

    It is indeed “understandable”‘ Nobody here is of the opinion that we should raise the defence budget to 3 percent of the GDP. What’s not “understandable” or acceptable is we maintain the course; continuing to do things in the sane flawed manner resulting in a MAF whose capability doesn’t reflect what we’ve spent on it.

    Other countries spend more but they also get better value for what they spent.

  8. The question on whether F35 is suitable falls back to the question of whether the MRCA can be single engined. If not then F35 is out. There are only 3 western 6th gen twin engine fighter programs – USAF NGAD, USN NGAD, and GACP. So whether Malaysia will consider F35 depends on whether RMAF will consider single engine for its MRCA requirements.

  9. I wonder what the RMAF plan to do with its grounded Migs? We cannot sell it for parts? Atleast recover some capital from the sale.

  10. @Zaft
    “Being an early adopters
    Our Armed Forces are known to be a conservative lot and prefers tried & tested tech/ systems/ equipment. It is only circumstances that forced them to take in stuff thats uniquely specced.

    “Technically it the Intrinsic power of a strong currencies”
    Strong currencies comes from a strong and well established stable economy, and of course the other litany of good governance practices. Strong currencies comes when the world and businesses have confidence in your economy and willing to put money into you rather than a simple understanding of exporting more than import. SG for example is a small island entreport so it had exported as much as it imports. SG also recognise that keeping the same economic strategy will lead to a middle income trap so they upstreamed their economic value, something which we are now stuck at.

    “hold a lot of high value added IP”
    IP and political power to where & to whom they leverage that IP. Ever heard their CHIPS Act? But no others can replicate what US doing, even other First World nations are forced to dance to their tune. Each of the developed nations got there by their own way, so trying to mimic another is pointless as we have to find our way.

    “Other countries spend more but they also get better value for what they spent.”
    Arguably some do get better value for every dollar they spent. Some, by the sheer weight of their currency could afford the same level of wastages as we have (ie if we buy 10 eggs expecting all 10 to be perfect we’d be disappointed but others could afford to buy 30 eggs and be happy they could find 10 perfect eggs), some others would willing to persevere and suck in the inefficiencies of local manufacturing by throwing lotsa money until it succeeds. It all depends on how realistic is the expectations of the outcome.

    Our key problem is our penchant for overestimating & overexpecting something. We wanted to build a Mercedes Benz car without the help of Mercedes, and we wanted to do it on a Toyota Corolla budget. Malays said Angan taik ayam. And when things don’t work out we tend to be overcritical onto those involved, even some of those whom were earnest to make it work. We don’t learn and we keep repeating the same mistakes; if we can’t foresee to get it right, we’d better not start something.

  11. If we wanted a strong currencies then stop making the money printing machine go brrrrrr, Start exporting more while importing less, start paying more taxes while enjoying lower subsidies. (Zaft)
    Well said, apart from the fact that our B40 cannot take anymore bitter pills hence the vigorous position of many to demand they get to access their KWSP accounts. The current government seems to be in a hurry to get to the developed country mark, so they seemed determined not to give in to the demands. We will see more retrenchments in the low-end factory jobs. It all means a painful ascension to that developed nation state.
    By the way, we are relaxing our income tax no even this penny-pinching government is wary of more social upheaval for the Rakyat. So it doesn’t matter if our currency is weak or not. It is actually more towards whether the Rakyat understands the need to spend more money (hopefully well-spent) for defence purposes. As is, it is difficult especially post-Covid 19.

  12. “B40 cannot take anymore bitter pills”
    Mainly because they are the most badly affected, especially during our roughly 10 year economic downturn/recession cycles. Its not their fault really as the Govt had failed to uplift them, while older generations B40s did get improved lives their place got replaced by new crop of poor. So we’re in a constant vicious cycle of feeding & fending the ever growing poor.

    Anwar’s Govt does not have as lofty goals as you’d put it, their fighting to survive the upcoming States elections and then after suspicions on their BN partner’s stability to keep in their pakat. This budget, moreso than Sabri’s last year, is the definitive of an election budget. Previous Govts had given little to the M40 segment but Anwar’s clinging to power have been so touchNgo he has to give more concession to draw as much voters as he can. Whichever ones we choose, we’re far from making good strides towards developed nation status as our politicians & ever revolving Govts are more focused on fighting for survival.

    Defence matters? Way way way down the ladder. Unless it can garner them more votes.

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