Mindef rebuts CNN report claiming S'pore buying F-35 fighter jets as response to China

The F-35s are a response to whichever country.

Belmont Lay| March 12, 02:57 PM

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has rebutted CNN over its recent report about buying new F-35 fighter jets from the United States.

What did CNN claim?

On March 7, CNN reported in an analysis piece that the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) acquired its recent fleet of F-35 fighter jets to send a message to China.

The CNN article is titled, "The message to China behind Singapore's US F-35 jet plan".

CNN quoted analysts who said Singapore's decision to acquire the F-35 was "indicative of growing concerns within Asia regarding China's regional ambitions".

What is Mindef's response?

In response to the article, Mindef said the acquisition of F-35 fighter jets by the RSAF is for Singapore's own defence deterrence and not directed against, or to align itself with, any particular country.

In a statement, Mindef said the CNN assertions were erroneous.

Mindef said: "Unlike other Asian countries who have acquired F-35s, Singapore is not a treaty ally of the US."

"While Singapore has allowed United States ships and aircraft usage of some of our military facilities, this is not a reaction to any recent developments. It is a long-standing arrangement dating back to 1990."

How did CNN come to its conclusion?

Singapore will become "the fourth American ally" in the Pacific region to own F-35s, after Australia, Japan and South Korea, CNN said.

The CNN report also pointed out that Singapore is a "close and long-time US ally" that "even hosts a US Navy facility".

What is the Singapore-US arrangement like militarily?

Singapore is known as a security partner of the US.

Logistics and maintenance support to US ships in the western Pacific and Indian oceans is provided by a US logistics group in Sembawang.

The 1990 agreement that grants the US access to military facilities in Singapore is set to be renewed.

Britain also has a naval support facility in Sembawang.

Singapore's deal to purchase fighter jets from US

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's said in Parliament on March 1 that Singapore would be seeking to buy four US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

Eight more can be added to the fleet subsequently.

They serve as replacement for Singapore's ageing fleet of F-16s

The US administration and the Department of Defence have given their endorsement of the deal.

But the US Congress must still approve it.

Mindef also said Singapore's defence policies are predicated on "an inclusive security architecture" exemplified by the 18-country Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus -- 10 Asean countries, and eight others, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the US.

How much does an F-35 cost?

The price of the F-35 ranges from US$90 million to US$115 million, and have been falling as a result of demand from more than 10 countries.

It is capable of taking off and landing vertically.