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RSAF purchases additional F-16C/Ds

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is to expand its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters with an order for another 12 Block 52 standard aircraft.

Singapore's follow-on purchase will allow it to deploy at least two squadrons of F-16C/Ds locally. The additional aircraft are likely to replace some of the RSAF's older McDonnell Douglas A-4S strike aircraft and are seen as gap fillers until a next-generation fighter type is acquired in 2005.

This latest deal, worth an estimated $350 million, has already entered the US congressional notification process. Delivery of the new fighters will begin in 2000 and follow on from the delivery of 30 Pratt & Whitney F100-229-powered fighters purchased and leased from Lockheed Martin by the RSAF.

Singapore will begin taking delivery in 1998 of tandem-seat F-16Ds and eight single-seater Cs ordered in 1994. The RSAF in addition has an option to buy 12 F-16C/Ds, which it will lease from Lockheed Martin.

The leased aircraft will be retained in the USA for pilot training at Luke AFB in Arizona. They are to replace 12 Bock 42 US Air Force F-16C/Ds which Singapore now leases, but which are due to be returned to the USAF. Seven older Block 15 F-16A/Bs are being structurally upgraded under the Falcon-up programme, but it is unclear whether the RSAF intends to retain the aircraft in the long-term.

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