Singapore has rejected a US offer of the Link 16 tactical datalink in favour of a cheaper Israeli alternative. The decision has angered officials in Washington and could threaten to undermine future interoperability with US military forces.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is understood to have decided to equip its Lockheed Martin F-16C/D and BoeingA-4SU strike aircraft with Israeli datalink terminals. This follows the failure of Link 16 negotiations to reach a final agreement on price.

US defence officials have privately expressed their disappointment, having secured unprecedented approval in early 1998 to release Link 16 to the RSAF and more recently overcome the problem of encryption code access.

Local sources add that it throws into doubt the ability of US forces to operate jointly with Singapore aircraft equipped with the Israeli datalink. Israel has not been given access to Link 16 and US officials question whether they could interface with its TADIL-J waveform. Singapore has equipped its new F-16C/Ds with spine-mounted Elisra jammers and Elta electronic countermeasures.

In the meantime, initial US approval has been given for supplemental letter of offer and acceptance clearing the Northrop Grumman/Lockheed Martin Longbow millimetre-wave radar for sale to Singapore.

Source: Flight International