The Lockheed Martin F-35 has made its long-awaited debut at the Singapore air show in the form of two short take-off vertical landing -B variants in service with the US Marine Corps.
The two F-35Bs on static display are from VMFA-121, which is forward-deployed in Japan. The squadron, which comprises 16 aircraft, made aviation history in mid-2015 when it became the first F-35 unit to achieve initial operating capability (IOC) with the type.
The STOVL variant's visit to the show is appropriate, because Singapore has expressed interest in it – although it has yet to issue a formal requirement.
Given that space constraints create basing challenges for the Republic of Singapore Air Force, the ability of the F-35B to operate from short runways and land vertically is seen as a benefit.
"[The Ministry of Defence] is still evaluating the F-35 JSF," says RSAF's Chief of Air Force, Maj Gen Mervyn Tan.
"Decisions to acquire new and advanced capabilities are important and will be made after careful and thorough evaluation. We have to ensure that our investment not only meets our defence requirements, but is also cost-effective."