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More Lockheed Martin F-35s Could be Headed to Asia and Australia

An F-35A Lightning II pilot turns his aircraft along the yellow taxi line on the 33rd Fighter Wing flightline at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr./Released)

Aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin could have additional orders for its advanced fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II jet fighter, as Singapore will reportedly exercise a contractual option to acquire eight additional aircraft.

These would be of the F-35B, the short/vertical takeoff and landing (S/VTOL) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, and would bring the Asian island nation’s fleet of Lightning IIs to a full dozen.

The United States Department of State approved Singapore’s request to buy four of the aircraft in January 2020, and that approval also included an option for eight additional fighters under a potential $2.75 billion foreign military sales agreement.

All twelve of the aircraft will be delivered by the end of the decade, Defense News reported.

Singaporean Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the decision to purchase the additional aircraft came after a “full evaluation” of the F-35, which followed increased access to the stealth fighter after the country made its initial order.

Military pilots from Singapore were able to fly with Australian and U.S. Marine Corps operators during a multinational air combat exercise over Northern Australia last year, while Singaporean personnel have been able to visit overseas operators to study various aspects of the program’s sustainment efforts.

The F-35B was chosen as it can take off fully loaded from a runway that is just 600 feet, and then land vertically.

This was seen as ideal given that it would allow the Republic of Singapore Air Force to reduce its reliance on long runways and to mitigate the potentially devastating effects of an attack on its airfields, Defense News also reported.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force will take delivery of its first F-35B in early 2026.

Advance Australia Fair

The eight F-35Bs ordered by Singapore may not be the only Joint Strike Fighters that could soon be flying across the Pacific Ocean, as Lockheed Martin has expressed hopes that Australia will increase its order of the jets after it completes its current defense review.

Australia has already purchased seventy-two F-35A fighters – the conventional takeoff and landing variant – which are being used to form three squadrons. All of the aircraft are scheduled to be fully operational this year.

Canberra had initially expressed interest in buying 100 of the Joint Strike Fighters but scaled back its order.

However, a defense strategic review, which is now addressing Australia’s future force posture, was handed over to the government on February 14.

It had reportedly included the possible purchase of a fourth squadron of F-35 jets. Australia remains a staunch U.S. ally, while Canberra has joined with Washington in pushing back against Beijing’s growing power and influence – notably its military building and China’s pressure on Taiwan.

Lockheed Martin has also noted that every F-35 built includes some Australian parts and components, and to date, more than 70 Australian companies have been awarded contracts for the development, production, and sustainment of the F-35, valued at AU$3 billion. Those contracts have provided more than 3,000 high-tech manufacturing jobs for Australian industry.

The first F-35A aircraft was accepted into Australian service in 2018.

The first F-35A squadron, No. 3 Squadron, became operational in 2021. As noted, all 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023.

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Author Experience and Expertise: 

A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

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