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Politics

Singapore to announce F-16 replacement soon

Southeast Asia's strongest air force considers F-35 as candidate

Singapore is evaluating the F-35 as a potetial candidate to replace the F-16.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE (Kyodo) -- Singapore plans to announce in the next few months its choice of replacement for its ageing F-16 fighter jets as it looks to upgrade its air force beyond 2030.

"We have looked at it carefully and I think we should make a decision within the next few months to make sure that we can replace our F-16 in time," Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said in an interview with a group of journalists at his ministry on Friday.

The interview was conducted ahead of Singapore Armed Forces Day, which is celebrated every July 1. The content of the interview was embargoed until Saturday evening.

He said the Singapore air force already has enough F-15s, which will be in service beyond 2030, so the government will not be buying more F-15s but instead other models.

Singapore's F-16s have been in service since 1998.

"All around the world, F-16s will face obsolescence beyond 2030, so you need a replacement for...post 2030," he said.

Besides price, he said other aspects being considered are capability of working with other platforms and ease of maintenance.

According to FlightGlobal, Singapore has the most powerful air force in Southeast Asia.

There has been talk in the last few years that Singapore might purchase the F-35, a fifth-generation fighter jet produced by the U.S. defense company Lockheed Martin Corp.

In an interview with FlightGlobal published earlier this year, Maj. Gen. Mervyn Tan, chief of the Republic of Singapore Air Force, said his ministry is "evaluating the F-35 as a potential candidate to strengthen our fighter force and maintain our combat edge into the future."

The F-35B, the vertical takeoff and landing version of the aircraft, was in Singapore for the first time at the Singapore Airshow in February this year.

 

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