In the budget debate in Parliament today (1 Mar), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told Parliament that Singapore will be placing an initial order for four F-35 stealth fighter jets from the US.
This is for testing with the option of buying a subsequent eight more, Minister Ng added. He said MINDEF will be issuing a Letter of Request (LOR) to the US regarding the purchase.
“Our LOR will request an initial acquisition of four F-35s, with the option of a subsequent eight if we decide to proceed,” he said. “As required by US law for foreign military sales, the US Congress must approve the sale of F-35s.”
“The Defence Science and Technology Agency’s (DSTA) assessment is that now is an opportune time to put in Singapore’s request,” Minister Ng said, noting that the price of the F-35 has been “steadily falling” due to “healthy orders” from the US and 10 other countries.
“The current unit price of the F-35 ranges from US$90 million (S$122 million) to US$115 million per aircraft, comparable to what we have paid for our F-15SGs,” he revealed.
According to maker Lockheed Martin, the F-35B – the short take-off/vertical landing variant that Singapore is reportedly interested in – costs US$115.5 million (S$156 million).
Hence with 4 F-35B, it will cost about S$624 million altogether for the initial order. The F-35 fighter jet is able to evade enemy’s radar and penetrate deep into enemy’s space without detection.
In his speech, Minister Ng even said that President Trump has welcomed Singapore’s plan to buy their F-35s.
“In fact, President Trump wrote to PM Lee last month welcoming Singapore’s plans to acquire the F-35,” he said. “During my meeting with Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan at the Munich Security Conference two weeks ago, he also said that the US was greatly appreciative of Singapore’s decision.”
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has announced the “Merdeka Generation Package” for those born between 1950 and 1959. The package includes benefits like a one-off $100 Passion Silver Card top-up that can be used to pay for courses and active ageing programmes at Community Clubs, access to public swimming complexes, public transport, and at other EZ-Link merchants as well as an annual $200 MediSave top-up for 5 years only.