The Singapore Defense Minister said on Friday that he considered the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter as the most appropriate replacement for the sixty F-16s that equip the Singapore Air Force.
The minister said he planned to acquire “a few devices at first” to conduct an assessment of these new models of fighter aircraft.
The city-state of Singapore has the largest defense budget of Southeast Asian countries and its wealth makes it one of the clients courted by arms producers.
Singapore’s F-16s entered service in 1998 and are expected to be replaced soon after 2030.
“They (the defense agencies) have decided that the F-35 is the most relevant replacement model,” Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post.
“We want to get some equipment at first in order to fully assess the capabilities of the F-35 before deciding on a full fleet acquisition,” he said.
Ng said Singaporean defense services will begin talks with their US counterparts and a preliminary agreement could take between nine and twelve months.
The F-35, which is one of the most sophisticated combat aircraft, accounts for about a quarter of Lockheed’s revenues.
The F-35A, which is the best-selling, is trading around $ 90 million each.