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RSAF pins its future on F-15SG

Probably the biggest news in Singapore since the last Asian Aerospace show was the selection of the F-15T (since redesignated as the F-15SG) to fulfil the Next Fighter Replacement requirement.

Singapore’s evaluation was widely praised as being thorough, in-depth and comprehensive, and the competition was hard fought, though little detail has been officially released. The RSAF and Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) insisted on a high degree of confidentiality from the competing teams, and normally helpful PR people remained tight-lipped about the competition and their companies’ submissions.

The competition went from being a three horse race between the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and the Boeing F-15T when the Typhoon was eliminated in April 2005. The Rafale teams hopes were dashed when a contract for 12 F-15Ts, to be delivered in 2008-9, was officially signed on 12 December. The contract included an option to order eight further aircraft.

MINDEF claimed that the F-15SG, which had “a configuration unique to Singapore”, would be “the most advanced variant of the F-15” but refused to provide any further details about the aircraft’s equipment. Fortunately, when the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified US Congress of a potential Foreign Military Sale of weapons, logistics and training in the event that the Boeing F-15 was selected by Singapore, it listed many of the weapons that were expected to be required. These included 200 AIM-120C AMRAAM missiles with six Captive Air Training (CAT) rounds, and 200 AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles with 24 CAT and dummy rounds. For the air-to-ground role, the aircraft were to be supplied with 50 GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and 30 AGM-154A-1 Joint Stand Off Weapons both with BLU-111 warheads, and 30 AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapons. The same notification revealed that the aircraft would be supplied with 24 Link 16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System/Low Volume Terminals (Fighter Data Link Terminals) and 44 pairs of AN/AVS-9(V) Night Vision Goggles.

In early January 2006, the Government of Singapore selected the 29,000-lb st General Electric F110-GE-129 engine to power its new F-15SGs, and it is understood that the aircraft will be fitted with the Raytheon AN/APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array radar.

There has been some speculation that Singapore will co-operate with Israel in modifying and upgrading its F-15s, as it is believed to have done with its F-16Ds. The Israeli F-15I Ra’am (Thunder) is equipped with an Elisra SPS-2110 Integrated Electronic Warfare System, and its crews wear DASH helmet sights.

It has also been suggested that the Singaporean F-15SGs will be the first to use the new Data Device Corporation High Performance 1553 databus (known as HyPer-1553TM) recently tested by the Boeing Phantom Works F-15E1 Advanced Technology Demonstrator aircraft.

The RSAF is thought to require further advanced fighters to replace the F-5S Tiger II from 2015, and eventually to replace the F-16. A purchase of further F-15SGs seems likely, at least to replace the F-5s, though longer term requirements could be filled by the the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Singapore joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) System Design and Development (SDD) Phase in February 2003, as a Security Co-operation Participant (SCP). Depending on whether the F-35 is acquired, more F-15Ts may be purchased, with an upper limit (reported by the RSAF) of 80 F-15Ts.
© Jon Lake, February 2006

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