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April 1, 2024

Singapore upgrading its Air fleet with planned purchase of F-35A stealth fighters

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The F-35A Joint Strike Fighter on display at the Singapore Airshow on Feb 21. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG — ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
April 1, 2024

On February 28, Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen announced that the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) plans to procure eight 5th generation F-35A stealth fighter jets, signaling the latest phase in the RSAF's ongoing modernization efforts aimed at replacing its aging fleet of nearly 60 F-16 fighter jets. This acquisition plan complements Singapore's earlier order of 12 F-35B which are expected to be delivered by 2026. While the F-35A lacks the vertical takeoff and landing capability of the F-35B, a feature particularly advantageous for Singapore's spatial constraints, it offers a higher weapon payload capacity and is more cost-effective. With the planned arrival of the F-35 fighter jets, Singapore currently stands as the sole Southeast Asian nation to integrate the F-35 into its air force. While the F-35A procurement remains undisclosed, the estimated cost for the earlier order of 12 F-35Bs, including associated equipment, amounted to approximately USD 2.75 billion.  

Renowned as the world's most advanced operational fighter jet, the F-35 boasts a top speed of Mach 1.6 (~1,200 mph) and a weapons payload capacity of 8,160 kg. Its exceptional maneuverability and reconnaissance capabilities, facilitated by advanced sensor and information collection systems and a cutting-edge helmet display interface, underscore its prominence in modern aerial warfare.  

Singapore, a leading US arms purchaser in Southeast Asia, previously disclosed a defense budget of SGD20.25 billion (USD15 billion) for 2024, which is a 13 percent increase from the previous year's budget. Over 95 percent of the budget is earmarked for operational expenditures, including the procurement and maintenance of military assets and infrastructure, and salaries for military personnel. 

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