Some of the Republic of Singapore Air Force personnel had the opportunity to interact with operational F-35 squadrons from the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the United States Air Force (USAF) recently. These visits and joint training are a key part of the RSAF’s F-35 evaluation efforts. During a study visit hosted by the USAF at Eglin Air Force Base, the team toured various F-35 facilities to observe the conduct of F-35 operations, and held engineering and maintenance discussions.
Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft from Peace Carvin II (PC II) detachment also participated in joint training with the USMC F-35B aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. Opportunities to physically observe engineering and maintenance practices, and train together with the F-35 aircraft provide valuable insight into the employment of the F-35Bs and how the Republic of Singapore Air Force can better integrate the F-35s into its warfighting concepts.
Singapore received U.S. State Department approval in January 2020 to acquire an initial tranche of four F-35Bs with an option for eight more aircraft in a deal valued at $2.75 billion, with deliveries expected to start from 2026. The small Southeast Asian island nation is due to move its F-16 training detachment at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona, to Ebbing Air National Guard Base at Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 2023. It will eventually transition to F-35B training following the delivery of its first aircraft.
Singapore selected the F-35B as its candidate to replace its fleet of 60 F-16C/D multirole fighters, which are receiving upgrades but are due for retirement beginning in the early 2030s. The Exercise Pitch Black in Australia has served as a “valuable opportunity” for the Republic of Singapore Air Force to understand the ability of the F-35 to operate with other assets and act as a force multiplier in a large force employment setting. The F-35 is taking part in the exercise for the first time, with host Australia flying F-35As while U.S. Marines use their F-35Bs.