Singapore may be poised to join the US-led Joint Strike Fighter F-35 programme, but no signature has yet been placed on the dotted line.

Orville Prins, Lockheed Martins's vice-president, business development, says Singapore has not yet signed as a security co-operation participant (SCP), even though the necessary paperwork was delivered some time ago. "But it is only a matter of time," Prins says. "Letters have been exchanged and hopefully Singapore will join up in a month or so."

When Singapore becomes an SCP, Prins says its investment will give it insight into the programme and access to data to decide whether the F-35 is worth further consideration.

Prins adds that the SCP delay is not linked to Singapore's recent decision to eliminate the Block 60 Lockheed Martin F-16 from its current fighter competition. "We were disappointed and surprised by that decision, but we have a long relationship with Singapore and that hasn't changed," he says.


Neither is the delay linked to ongoing weight problems with the F-35 STOVL variant. Prins is adamant that the aircraft "has issues over its performance, not a weight problem".

The conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variants - F-35A/F-35C - exceed all their key performance indicators, he says, adding it is only the F-35B STOVL variant that needs additional development.

"This is not abnormal on a new aircraft and it is how we deal with the issue that is important. We are doing lots of work with our programme partners and working out how we can re-sequence the aircraft and stick to budget.

"The ultimate solution is likely to be one that involves looking at the engine, the airframe and the overall design - we are not looking to the engine alone to resolve the issue.

"Obviously, we factored in engine thrust growth as the programme developed, but we won't rely on that to resolve any weight issues. What I will say is that the earlier the problems are addressed in the programme the better," Prins says.


Source: Flight Daily News