Singapore to procure 8 new F-35A Lightning II 5th-generation fighters


F-35A Lightning II fighters, these examples in service woth the Royal Australian Air Force. Photo c/o Australian DoD.

Singapore’s Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen has announced on 28 February 2024 that the country will be procuring 8 new F-35A Lightning II 5th-generation fighter aircraft for the Repbulic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), which are expected to be delivered by 2030.

The announcement was made during parliamentary debates on Singapore’s defence budget, citing that the F-35 has become a proven platform, while economies of scale from massive orders from the United States and other countries has allowed it to be more affordable than before.

Singapore already confirmed an order for 12 of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) capable F-35B Lightning II in 2020, making the total procurement of F-35 fighter aircraft by the city state to 20 aircraft.

The F-35A is the standard conventional take-off and landing variant of the F-35 serries of 5th generation fighter aircraft developed by American defense giant Lockheed Martin, and will have greater endurance and higher payload capacity than its STOVL counterpart.

Dr. Ng did not disclose the price Singapore will be paying for the new fighters, but mentioned that it is similar in cost to the RSAF’s existing F-15SG Strike Eagle twin-engine fighters. 

He also said that the lower cost of the F-35A compared to years before created a “window of opportunity” that makes it attractive to procure at this time.

The F-35A and B Lightning II are expected to replace the RSAF’s fleet of F-16C/D Fighting Falcon single-engine fighters, which it has been operating since the late 1990s, and are targeted to start retirement from service by the 2030s.

Singapore is the first country in Southeast Asia to have 5th generation fighter aircraft, keeping the RSAF’s status as the most advanced in the region.

In addition, Singapore announced that its defense budget for 2024-2025 financial year will reach S$20.2 billion (around US$15 billion), or 2.5% higher than the previous year. While the budget increased, the share of defese spending as a percentage of Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) remains at 3%.

[1] The Straits Times

[2] Channel News Asia

[3] MediaCorp Today

Singapore to procure 8 new F-35A Lightning II 5th-generation fighters Singapore to procure 8 new F-35A Lightning II 5th-generation fighters Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on February 29, 2024 Rating: 5

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