Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, who this week watched a demonstration of the Marine Corps' F-35B Joint Strike Fighter in Arizona, reiterated today that is his country is "seriously considering" acquiring F-35s to replace its F-16s, but no decision is imminent.
Singapore is in "no particular hurry because our F-16s are still very operational, and they're due for upgrades," he said at a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel following bilateral talks at the Pentagon. "But it is a serious consideration. And during my visit here to Luke Air Base, U.S. Marines were kind enough to have a demonstration of the F-35Bs and it's quite an engineering model. We recognize that there are aspects to consider, and we will make a deliberate decision, because as I said, we are in no particular hurry, but we are seriously considering it."
In a joint statement, the pair touted the completion of the inaugural rotational deployment of the U.S. Navy's first Littoral Combat Ship to Singapore from April to November 2013 under the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, noting they were pleased that the deployment had "strengthened the United States' engagement with Singapore and the region." The rotational deployment of the next LCS is slated for late 2014, followed by the third LCS deployment in late 2015, in line with U.S. plans to deploy up to four littoral warships in the region by the end of 2016.