As its Air Show dawns, Singapore’s aviation defense priorities remain centred around two major programs. The Republic of Singapore Air Force is committed to procuring F-35 fighters, but despite a long and deep involvement in the multinational program, has yet to confirm an order. The island nation has meanwhile received approval from the United States Congress to procure an extensive upgrade to 60 of its F-16s, in a move last month which may trigger a competition between airframe lead integrator Lockheed Martin, and a rival upgrade consortium led by BAE Systems.
The proposed F-16 upgrade is extensive. According to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notification submitted to Congress on January 13, the contract – estimated at around $2.43 billion – will provide a raft of new or augmented capabilities to Block 52 F-16C, D and D+ aircraft.
Key line items include 70 active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars; 70 helmet-mounted cueing systems; and a range of testing and integration weapons, including AIM-9X Block II and TGM-65G Maverick missiles; GBU-38 joint direct attack munitions; and GBU-49 enhanced Paveway guided bombs. Improved IFF (identification: friend or foe) and new GPS (global positioning system) equipment is also included.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by increasing the ability of the Republic of Singapore to contribute to regional security,” DSCA told Congress. “The improved capability, survivability and reliability of newly upgraded F-16s will enhance the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) ability to defend its borders and contribute to coalition operations with other allied forces.”