Singapore to buy eight F-35A jets, boost defence spending

Singapore to buy eight F-35A jets, boost defence spending

The fourth US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrives at the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. (File photo: Reuters)
The fourth US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrives at the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. (File photo: Reuters)

SINGAPORE - Singapore will acquire eight Lockheed Martin Corp F-35A fighter jets to be delivered around 2030, adding another tranche of modern aircraft to the city-state’s fleet, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told parliament Wednesday.

Speaking during a budget debate, the minister said there are currently close to 2,500 F-35s on order globally. "The price is now more competitive," he said. "So, we will capitalise on this window of opportunity to accelerate our F-35 program."

All told, the ministry projects expenditure of around S$20.2 billion (US$15 billion) in the coming financial year, an increase of 2.5% from 2023.

Like other nations in Southeast Asia, Singapore has sought to strengthen its defence posture amid growing geopolitical risks. Those include tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan, and in the disputed South China Sea.

"I can assure this house that surprises and unintended consequences are in store," Ng said. "So, I have reversed my assessment for today's generation in Singapore and elsewhere. The risk of regional and even global conflict, even in the next decade, has become nonzero. I do not make this assessment lightly."

The government said last year it would exercise an option to acquire eight F-35s to add to the existing fleet of four, allowing the progressive retirement of aging F-16s. The order announced on Thursday will bring the total number of F-35s operated by Singapore to 20.

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