November 09, 2012
Credit: Credit: Lockheed Martin
Singapore is showing increased interest in buying Lockheed Martin Corp’s (LMT.N) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a top executive with the company said late on Thursday, a week after China unveiled a second stealth fighter called the J-31.
Lockheed is building three variants of the stealthy warplane for the U.S. military and eight international partners -- Britain, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands, which are helping fund the plane’s development.
Singapore became a security partner on the international fighter program in February 2003, along with Israel, which has already ordered an initial batch of the jets.
As security partners, Singapore and Israel both pledged to contribute about $50 million to the F-35 development effort, according to the globalsecurity.org website.
“Their (Singapore’s) interest in the program is still quite strong,” Tom Burbage, general manager of the F-35 program, told Reuters late on Thursday after a speech to the Royal Aeronautical Society at the British embassy in Washington.
“Their activity has picked up a little bit and it makes us think that they’re going to become more active,” Burbage said, when asked about Singapore’s plans to place F-35 orders.
Washington is actively encouraging more exports of weapons systems such as the F-35 to strengthen ties with allies, and offset a budget-driven decline in its own procurement programs.
President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are traveling to Asia this month for a variety of visits, and to participate in the annual summit of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which includes Singapore.
Washington has sought to consolidate ties and reinforce U.S. influence across Asia as part of a “pivot” toward the region as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.