Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Singapore's F-16 replacement...the usual suspects plus 1?

via Defense News.
Singapore will decide in the next few months on a new fighter to replace its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16 multirole fighters, with the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter from the same manufacturer seen as the prime candidate.

In an interview with media ahead of the southeast Asian island nation’s Armed Forces Day, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said that despite ongoing upgrades, the F-16s face obsolescence beyond 2030. He added the country will make a definitive decision on its replacement in the next few months based on interoperability with Singapore’s current systems and platforms as well as the price.

Ng refused to be drawn into further details as to which fighter platforms Singapore is looking at, only saying that the BAE Systems Typhoon, the F-35, Russia’s Sukhois, and Chinese-made stealth fighters are “the usual suspects that you have to look at” when air forces are choosing a new combat platform.
Story here. 

I wonder.

Could Singapore be looking at the usual suspects PLUS the Saab Gripen?

I ask because I've noticed an EXTREME practicality and HUGE DESIRE for independence when it comes to their defense systems.

Have you noticed it?

Ship building?  Almost all local.  Armored vehicles?  The same.  Energy production?  They're working overtime to remove every possible vulnerability. Food?  The same.  Water?  Ditto.

So why would a country that is working so hard for independence on every scale possible suddenly decide to slave themselves to Lockheed Martin's ALIS contraption?

Why would they make themselves a slave to a global supply chain that could easily be disrupted?

I don't think they will.

I think performance is negotiable with their selection.  I believe that the freedom to put whatever avionics they want and to build as much of the plane as they want locally will be the driving force.

I know what you're saying.

You're saying this doesn't apply with their Air Force because we can look to the F-15 deal as an example.  They have a large fleet of them and many are here in the US constantly training.

I'm betting that was then and this is now.  Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen is almost ruthless when it comes to Singapore defense needs.  I get the impression that he's identified vulnerabilities and is seeking to stomp them out with an efficiency that would make the biggest OCD sufferer blush in amazement and jealousy.

Long story short.

I don't see them acting on the promise of the F-35 ironing out its problems. This is the F-16 replacement and I'm thinking that he will want this done sooner rather than later.

The F-35 could be selected by them but I'll bet it comes later in the 2020's almost near the end or on 2030.  No rush for them on that beat.

One other thing.

Singapore's defense ministry truly acts as a DEFENSE ministry.  Offensive actions are not part of how they operate.  Penetrating strike fighters isn't really a main need.  Maritime strike...air defense...air superiority...those ring the bell first for them and they're all based on defending the city state, not seeking to conquer others.

I think this decision will stun.

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