Another advantage of the F-35B for Singapore and the U.S. is that it can take off and land from aircraft carriers and amphibious landing platforms.
While Singapore has made clear that it will be a Joint Strike Fighter customer, Ng’s public disclosure to parliament caught some industry observers by surprise. Singapore’s defense establishment, which accounts for about 26% of the government’s budget, is notorious for trying to keep procurement information secret. But times have changed because, generally speaking, Singaporeans today are more interested in the nation’s affairs. Ng may have made the disclosure to ensure the general public is more aware of the situation so that there is no great surprise or political backlash when the multibillion dollar order is made. The B-model is more expensive than the F-35A and F-35C.
Singapore also realizes that it needs to be more transparent with its defense purchases, to avoid unsettling its neighbors. Indonesia Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro told Aviation Week recently that Asian countries are modernizing their defense forces in line with economic growth. But he added that Asian countries need to be open about what they are doing and make their intentions clear. He specifically mentioned Singapore along with China, India and Indonesia. He warned that if nations fail to be transparent, it could potentially spark a regional arms race.