WASHINGTON – The United States government has approved the possible sale of 12 F-35B stealth fighters to Singapore at an estimated cost of US$2.75 billion (S$3.7 billion).
Singapore’s current fleet of F-16s have been in service since 1998 and will become obsolete after 2030.
A statement released by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Thursday (Jan 9) said: “This proposed sale of F-35s will augment Singapore’s operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defence capability, adding to an effective deterrence to defend its borders and contribute to coalition operations with other allied and partner forces.”
The new F-35Bs are pricier than another model, the F-35A, but they can take off from shorter runways and land vertically. The F-35A takes off and lands the usual way on longer runways.
Singapore’s intentions still need to be approved by Congress, which is likely to do so. The latter was formally notified of the proposed sale on Thursday and will have 30 days to review it before it is approved.
Singapore would be the fourth country in the Asia-Pacific region to own F-35 jets, after Australia, Japan and South Korea.
In its statement, the Defence Department added that Singapore requested to buy four F-35Bs with the option to buy eight more of the same aircraft, as well as up to 13 engines, electronic warfare systems and related support and logistics services.
Singapore’s decision to purchase the F-35 stealth fighters from the US was announced last year by the Ministry of Defence. /TISG