Singapore has finally decided to acquire four F-35 aircraft with options for eight more, initially for evaluation purposes. The purchase appears cautious, well-timed, and cost-effective.

Cautious, in that development remains ongoing with a full rate production decision not likely until late 2019. Singapore plans to sign a contract about then.

Well-timed, in that it means Singapore will buy the fully-developed F-35 version, the Lot 15, Block 4 Standard. Any F-35s bought before then will need upgrading to that standard; most of Australia’s F-35s, those delivered and on order, will need upgrading.

And cost-effective, as Singapore will be buying as US annual production rate peaks, usefully pushing acquisition costs down.

The limited numbers and the F-35’s attributes suggest that Singapore will use its new F-35s in combination with its F-16 and F-15 fleets. The attribute of the F-35 that pilots most stress is its excellent sensor package that provides a very detailed picture of the battlespace.

Please click here to read the full “Singapore’s careful F-35 fighter aircraft purchase” article at the Lowy Interpreter, written by Griffith Asia Institute Visiting Fellow, Dr Peter Layton.