After the Defense Ministry announced on Friday, January 18, planned purchases of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters as replacements for its older F-16s, Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Sunday that these purchases would not cause a big spike in the ministry’s budget.
Ng said reassuringly that the purchases were within budget limits and are part of the ministry’s plan for modernization.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a Program for Active Living event in Bishan, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported Ng as saying, ”We know how to stretch it out and if we plan long, we will be able to do it. So it’s always a significant investment into defense, but we don’t see a large spike in defense spending for this year’s budget.”
Each F-35A unit costs US$89.2 million, while F-35B models cost US$115.5 million. The former model allows for conventional take-off and landing, while the latter one is able to lift off from shorter runways and make helicopter-like landings. CNA mentioned that the country has shown special interest in the F-35B models.
On the ongoing tensions between Singapore and Malaysia, Ng expressed optimism because the two sides are “making headway,” with ministers from both countries continuing to meet.
“The most important takeaway from the last few weeks since the Malaysian government vessels entered into our Singapore territorial waters in Tuas, as well as the situation in Seletar and issues about airspace, is that one: We have avoided coming to blows. It’s always better to settle disagreements through peaceful talks, negotiations, and discussions”
However, he also offered reassurances that defense forces are staying alert amidst the tensions, and are capable of and ready for immediate responses as situations arise.
“At the same time, our security agencies (SAF, the Home Team) are ever vigilant. We watch very carefully. We know what’s going on. We’re able to respond very quickly.”