Boeing, Dassault and Eurofighter bids are shortlisted

Singapore has shortlisted the Boeing F-15T, Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon in its next-generation fighter competition.

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60 and Sukhoi Su-30/35 have been excluded. Singapore, however, could still place a follow-on order for F-16s.

Boeing, Dassault and Eurofighter will now respond to a tender for eight fighters, with the winner to be selected in late 2004 or 2005 and deliveries starting in 2008 or 2009. Singapore's ministry of defence, which had been planning a 10 aircraft buy plus 10 options, now says a follow-on purchase for 12-16 fighters is possible "in the near future".

Many anticipated the Rafale would be eliminated because it made after-deadline revisions after the French government dropped financial support for the export variant. Dassault is now offering Singapore the option of investing in a new variant, with upgraded Snecma engines and Thales avionics.

Singapore is entertaining this proposal because of the extra work it would provide for Singapore Technologies Aerospace. But it is still considered a long shot because of the anticipated steep development price tag and the likelihood it will not be ready by 2008.

The F-15T, probably equipped with Raytheon's active electronically scanned APG-63 radar, requires the least local work and is the most certain to meet the 2008 requirement.

Industry sources say Lockheed is surprised the F-16 was rejected given Singapore's current F-16 inventory. But Singapore could still opt for more F-16s - either on top of or instead of a new fighter - as it re-evaluates its force structure next year.

Source: Flight International