AOL Defense reported that the tiny island nation would order the first 12 of 75 F-35Bs sometime in the next 10 days. The website did not cite any sources for the report, but speculation has been growing in recent weeks that Singapore was leaning toward the F-35 to update its already formidable air force.
Singapore’s defence minister, Ng Eng Hen, told the country’s parliament earlier this month that the F-35 had been identified as “a suitable aircraft to further modernise our fighter fleet.”
“Our F-5s are nearing the end of their operational life and our F-16s are at their mid-way mark,” he said, according to Reuters. “We are now in the final stages of evaluating the F-35.”
Singapore signed on to the Joint Strike Fighter program as a Security Co-operation Participation in 2003, alongside Israel. Israel went on to order 20 JSFs in October 2010, but until now Singapore has held back from committing to the aircraft.
The F-35B is the STOVL version of the jet ordered by the US Marine Corps. If Singapore does go ahead with the order, the F-35 would eventually join a fleet that currently includes 24 F-15SGs, 20 F-16Cs, 40 F-16Ds, 28 F-5Ss and 5 F-5Ts.