Singapore Plans To Buy Eight F-35As Along With Twelve F-35Bs

With the new plan, Singapore is set to operate both F-35A and Bs (Photo: Republic of Singapore Air Force)

RSAF announced after the Singapore Airshow that it will acquire eight F-35As

On Feb.28, 2024, the Ministry of Defence of Singapore (MINDEF) announced that it will acquire an additional eight F-35As along with its previous plans of twelve F-35Bs. This announcement followed shortly after the 2024 Singapore Airshow’s closing earlier this week.

With this, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will be the first air force to operate multiple types of the Lightning II. According to Singaporean Defence Minister, Dr. Ng Eng Hen, these decisions were deliberate and calculated. He added that “…the F-35’s, when operational, will put the RSAF in the premier league”.  It appears that the RSAF have opted for the combination for a stealth solution that can have both long endurance and have Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) capabilities.

The initial 4+8 F-35Bs were previously chosen specifically because of it being the only stealth STOVL solution. Given Singapore’s small land mass, it was deemed crucial to opt for an aircraft with operational flexibility. The choice to acquire eight F-35As whilst sacrificing some degree of parts commonality was deliberately made due to the A model having greater endurance and higher weapons carrying capabilities than the B models.

Combination of F-35 A and B models to replace F-16s by mid-2030s

The first batch of four F-35Bs are expected to be delivered by 2026, with the rest arriving by 2028. Given the Parliament’s approval, the F-35As being ordered now should arrive in Singapore by 2030.  The F-35As will complement the F-35Bs in replacing the RSAF’s F-16 fleet in the coming years.  Currently the RSAF operates a total of 60 F-16C/D/D+s along with 40 F-15SGs. The RSAF will slowly phase out the F-16 completely, eventually comprising its fighter fleet of F-35A, F-35B, and F-15SG in the second half of the 2030s.

About Wonwoo Choi
Wonwoo is a student journalist and contributor to The Aviationist based in London, United Kingdom. Currently studying MEng in Aeronautical Engineering with a keen interest in OSINT, plane spotting and aircraft design. He is a former Sergeant of the Republic of Korea Army, having served as an artillery Fire Direction Centre Vehicle Radio Operator.