Purchase of F-35s not a move against any country, says Mindef
The acquisition of F-35 fighter jets by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is for the country's own defence deterrence, and not directed against or to align itself with any particular country, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) yesterday.
It was responding to a recent report by American news outlet CNN where analysts said Singapore's decision to acquire the F-35 was "indicative of growing concerns within Asia regarding China's regional ambitions".
Published on March 7, the report also suggested that the acquisition carried a message to China as Singapore will become "the fourth American ally" in the Pacific region to own F-35s, after Australia, Japan and South Korea.
The report titled "The message to China behind Singapore's US F-35 jet plan" had also said that Singapore is a "close and long-time US ally" that "even hosts a US Navy facility".
In a statement, Mindef said that these assertions were erroneous.
"Unlike other Asian countries who have acquired F-35s, Singapore is not a treaty ally of the US," it said.
"While Singapore has allowed United States ships and aircraft usage of some of our military facilities, this is not a reaction to any recent developments. It is a long-standing arrangement dating back to 1990," added Mindef.
The CNN report was published after Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's announcement in Parliament on March 1 that Singapore would be seeking to buy four USF-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for a start, with an option for eight more. - LIM MIN ZHANG