Power projection and military partnerships with US: Why Singapore needs F-35B now more than ever?

The US State Department approved the sale of 12 fifth-generation, F-35B fighter jets to Singapore on Thursday, it is awaiting the approval from the Congress

The US State Department approved the sale of 12 fifth-generation fighter jets to Singapore. As tensions brew in the South Eastern region of Asia, Singapore is acquiring short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) B variant of the F-35 from the US.

The US government formally approved the deal on Thursday and notified the Congress of their decision. The estimated cost of the sale is said to be $2.75 billion and is pending approval from the Congress, said the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Friday.

Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said that last year the city-state planned on acquiring four F-35B short takeoff and landing jets, with the intention of a total of 12, B models by submitting a letter to the US government for the purchase. Singapore is trying to replace its ageing F-16 fleet.

F-35B is set to be sold to Singapore after Australia. A bulkier version of the F-35 variant, its denoted be worse than F-35A.

Power projection in Asia with F-35B in Singapore: what they gain?

The Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters are being sold to Singapore in two stages with the initial package containing four fighters with an option to buy eight more following the first sale. Singapore doesn't have an aircraft carrier.

The short-take-off-and-vertical-landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter has a ducted fan that is geared to its main turbine and an exhaust nozzle that rotates downwards allowing the fighter to take off from shortened or ramped runways. It can land vertically as well. The country can use fighter jets from a hard to find military bases. This also has the probability of building a stronger relationship with the United States.

Deal also contains a Pratt and Whitney F135 turbine

The package deal also contains a Pratt and Whitney F135 turbine, including one spare. The DSCA said that the potential deal has not been finalized. It contains the same system that is brought in by the F-35A but with less manoeuvrability and weapons.

The regional balance of power has been changing since World War II. This has been one of the major factors in the acquisition of better technology in this wealthy state. It has been focused on bringing in allies regionally and one of the best examples of this is the Australian partnership. The modernisation program that Singapore is focusing on presently is because of the probability of the conflict from the South China Sea, which constitutes in the trade relation and passageway of ships in the regional security of several countries and allies.