The USA is promising to remain actively engaged in the Asia-Pacific, both with treaty allies like Japan and South Korea, and with regional partners such as Singapore.

Washington’s official representative to the island city state, Ambassador Jonathan Kaplan, pledged that the USA will maintain a robust presence in Asia, despite active conflicts in Europe and the Middle East pulling diplomatic and military resources to those regions.

Speaking at the opening of the Singapore air show on 20 February, Kaplan said Washington seeks to be a steady hand in Asia amidst what he called a “complicated time in history”.

“We will continue to support our friends and our allies, we will continue to be a reliable partner to Singapore and we will continue to be a stabilising force in this region,” Kaplan says.

The ambassador specifically noted security challenges in the South China Sea – an area of contention between the USA and China owing to Beijing’s sweeping territorial claims in the region. 

Although the USA and Singapore do not share a mutual defence pact, the two governments regularly partner on joint military exercises.

The strategically located Southeast Asian country is also an approved buyer for some the USA’s most advanced and sensitive defence articles – notably the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter.

F-35 manufacturer Lockheed says it plans to deliver the first of Singapore’s 12 planned jets in 2026. The Republic of Singapore Air Force plans to acquire the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B variant.

Singapore also operates a substantial fleet of legacy US combat aircraft, including Boeing AH-64D attack helicopters, F-15SG fighters and Lockheed F-16C/Ds.

Kaplan says US defence firms are seeing “considerable growth and opportunity” in Singapore, which the entrepreneur-turned-diplomat predicts will “develop resilience for both of our nations”.

Non-defence trade is also flowing freely between Singapore and the USA. Kaplan says that $120 billion of bi-lateral trade were exchanged between the two countries in 2023. 

The USA is also the largest source of foreign direct investment for Singapore, with more than $300 billion in capital flowing into the city state from some 5,700 US firms operating on the island.

Aerospace is well represented in that relationship.

Elsewhere at the Singapore air show, US manufacturing giant RTX on 19 February announced it will expand production of geared turbofan (GTF) engines in the country.

RTX subsidiary Pratt & Whitney is partnered with SIA Engineering on the Eagle Service Asia facility, which produces GTF engines in Singapore. Expansion of the facility will boost capacity by more than 60% in 2024, according to RTX.

The top procurement official for the US Air Force – assistant secretary Andrew Hunter – lauded the move during an appearance at the Singapore air show, calling the GTF “one of the most highly-engineered engine technologies in the world”.