"Singapore is seriously looking at the F-35s to
replace our F-16s," the Singapore official told reporters at the
Pentagon during a joint news conference with U.S. Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel.
"We're in no particular hurry, because our F-16s are still very
operational, and they're due for upgrades. But it is a serious
consideration," Eng Hen said.
The minister said he saw a demonstration of two F-35 B-models
operated by the U.S. Marine Corps during a visit to Luke Air
Force Base in Arizona earlier this week and described the new
aircraft as "quite an engineering marvel." The B-model takes off
from shorter runways and lands like a helicopter.
Lockheed is developing three models of the new Joint Strike
Fighter for the U.S. military and eight countries that helped
fund its development: Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway,
Turkey, Italy, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Israel and Japan have also ordered the new radar-evading
warplane, and South Korea last month signaled its plans to order
40 of the planes.
Singapore has long been interested in the fighter plane, and
appeared poised to place firm orders earlier this year, but that
timetable has slipped somewhat, according to sources close to
the F-35 program.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and
Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by Cynthia Osterman)
[© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2013 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.