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Singapore strengthens air defence with F-35 fighter jet acquisition

Singapore to acquire 8 F-35A jets, complementing 12 F-35Bs, enhancing RSAF’s capabilities. The move, amidst global F-35 criticisms, aims to fortify air defense and operational flexibility by 2030.



Republic of Singapore Air Force PC II personnel train with USMC F-35Bs at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. (Photo by RSAF)

In a move to enhance its aerial combat capabilities, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is set to bolster its fleet with the acquisition of eight F-35A fighter jets.

This announcement was made by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen during the Budget 2024 debate on the Ministry of Defence’s (Mindef) budget on February 28. The new aircraft will complement the previously announced purchase of 12 F-35Bs, marking a substantial investment in fifth-generation stealth technology proven effective on the battlefield.

The F-35As, which are expected to arrive around 2030, follow Mindef’s 2023 decision to buy an additional eight F-35Bs after an initial acquisition of four in 2020. These state-of-the-art jets are produced by Lockheed Martin, a leading aerospace manufacturer based in the United States.

Highlighting the strategic importance of this acquisition, Dr Ng explained that the F-35A variant offers greater endurance and the capability to carry higher payload capacities, perfectly complementing the F-35B’s unique short take-off and vertical landing capabilities. This combination provides the RSAF with enhanced operational flexibility, particularly crucial in Singapore’s land-scarce context.

The F-35’s proven track record includes successful operations across the globe, from striking Islamic State targets in the Middle East to conducting reconnaissance missions in conflict zones such as Ukraine. This has not only demonstrated the aircraft’s formidable capabilities but also encouraged other nations to join the growing list of F-35 operators.

With close to 2,500 units on order worldwide, the F-35 program has reached a competitive pricing point, making it an opportune moment for Singapore to expand its fleet. Although specific figures for the eight F-35As were not disclosed, pricing trends suggest a cost-effective window for acquisition, with the latest production lot indicating a price of US$82.5 million per F-35A.

This expansion comes with strategic implications, as Mindef and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) may need to reprioritize other projects to facilitate this purchase. However, Dr Ng expressed confidence that the timing and decision to invest in the F-35As are in the nation’s best interest, propelling the RSAF into the “premier league” of air forces.

The new F-35s are set to replace the RSAF’s ageing F-16 jets, enhancing Singapore’s defensive capabilities alongside the fully operational F-15SGs.

A budget of S$20.8 billion is set to be voted on for allocation to the Ministry of Defence for FY2024, making up about 15.6% of the total budget allocated to the ministries.

Criticism of the F-35 Programme

While the acquisition marks a significant milestone for Singapore’s air defense, the F-35 program has not been without its critics. Notably, the handling of intellectual property rights has been a point of contention, with the U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall highlighting the lessons learned from the F-35’s challenges.

This includes a strategic shift for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter program, ensuring upfront acquisition of intellectual property rights to avoid maintenance and sustainment challenges experienced with the F-35 program.

Furthermore, the program has faced criticism from international quarters. Senior Australian journalist Brian Toohey has voiced concerns over Australia’s decision to expand its F-35 fleet, citing the aircraft’s history of costly problems.

Toohey argues for a reevaluation of the program, emphasizing the F-35’s operational and financial burdens. This sentiment is echoed by various reports and experts questioning the aircraft’s reliability, operational range, and suitability for specific strategic needs, such as Australia’s requirement for an effective reach in the Asia-Pacific region.

It is unknown how Singapore has managed to handle the costly maintenance arrangement with Lockheed Martin, as experienced by the other countries that have purchased the planes.

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Eng hen don’t forget to buy cheap Australian unmanned drones n parked them at tch Mandai underground facility.
Instead of buying these expensive fighter jets!

Singapore does not need F-35 Fighter Jets.

We need a larger navy to patrol our regional waters. We need more destroyers and maybe a frigate or two.

How exactly will F-35s fight against regional piracy?

In the event of a real war, the enemy is more likely to bombard our air bases first. Without functioning airbases, F-35s quickly turn from expensive war machines into sitting ducks.

I believe if SG has invested enough in deadly I T and Digital Power, to be able to invent, design our own War Games, this will save Millions and Millions of Dollars and can throw at poorer SG to dine at restaurants to put Bastard Vivian to shame.

Buying F-35 is a win win for Singapore, China and USA…lol….because the jet is designed by USA and it uses some China parts.
Also, with the delivery of F-35B, Singapore may need an aircraft carrier next.

Where you want to fly? From Jurong to Pulau Ubin? Waste taxpayer monies to please corrupt Joe.

That 2% more of GST collected and TO BE COLLECTED must be so overwhelmingly excessive, that they could go on spending like this including renovating their ISTANA!
But some one there recently say…they got no more money, so got to raise GST!
Swee boh peasants? 😆😆😆🤣🤣🤣

They buy to please Biden so that can Corrupt together. No?!? A little red dot. Even if you have 10 planes, if all turn against you. You think your planes can survive?!? Much less sold by other ppl who have already meddle with the machinery and install what nots … Maybe self kamakazi button even …

Firstly, it’s super expensive to acquire them.
The next problem is they are very expensive to maintain and fly (every hour cost a lot).
Joe Biden must be laughing all the way

Buy so much weapons on a small island for WHAT?!? War mongers … Too much money dunno where to Park?!? Yet dun want to give to ppl complaining no food …

Lawrence Wong is Obama Democrats and Xi Loong Entities.

Double O one for Obama and the other Loong. Dun need to come and harass others with your cult!!!!

Google Tech stop harassing ppl with your non stop location disclosure!!!