Singapore has announced an intention to obtain eight Lockheed Martin F-35As, in addition to the 12 F-35Bs it has on order.

Defence minister Ng Eng Hen announced the planned order during a speech in Singapore’s parliament, stating that the cost of the aircraft has come down, making “it comparable to a [Boeing] F-15”.

F-35A Singapore Airshow 2024

Source: Greg Waldron/FlightGlobal

Singapore has ordered 12 F-35Bs, and has announced plans to also buy eight F-35As

“We will capitalise on this window of opportunity to accelerate our F-35 programme,” says Ng.

The F-35B is the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35, while the F-35A is the conventional take-off and landing version.

In tiny Singapore, land for air bases is at a high premium, making STOVL aircraft such as the F-35B appealing.

The acquisition pends parliamentary approval of Singapore’s defence budget. In addition, the US government will need to produce a Foreign Military Sales case for the acquisition.

Singapore is set to receive its first four F-35Bs in 2026. “[This] seems to be on schedule,” says Ng.

The subsequent eight F-35Bs will be delivered in 2028, with F-35As from the freshly announced acquisition likely to arrive “around 2030”.

Ng adds that Singapore had to “de-prioritise” other, unspecified projects for the F-35A plan. “But we’ve done our calculations and think this is the best time to put in an order for the F-35As.”

Ng observes that the F-35A carries a greater payload and has longer endurance than the F-35B, and that when Singapore’s F-35s become operational, it will put the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) “in the premier league”.

The F-35 will serve as the replacement for Singapore’s fleet of Lockheed F-16s, of which about 60 examples are undergoing a major upgrade programme. Ng says the F-16s will be retired from the mid-2030s.

Adds Ng: “After the F-16s retire, the RSAF will operate F-35As, F-35Bs, and F-15SGs… [these are] capable of performing the full suite of missions required to defend Singapore’s skies.”