“When the F-35s are operational, we will be in the Premier League.”: 5 of S’pore’s defence goals


“WEALTHY SMALL Kuwait with its rich resources was a tempting and lucrative victim,” said Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen (Feb 28) about the start of the first Gulf War. 

“Wealthy small Singapore can be a very lucrative target, without a strong defence,” continued Minister Ng during the Committee of Supply (COS) debates about Singapore’s $20.2 billion defence expenditure for 2024. 

Source: Ng Eng Hen / Facebook 

His comments are wise and important in this increasingly troubled world. Especially since other countries coming to our aid is not a given. They have their own responsibilities to their people. In fact, why let Singapore become a lucrative target anyway? A retaliatory strike after losing loved ones is cold comfort. 

So here, while the Opposition gallivants about dodging simple questions and basic financial responsibilities, the PAP Government’s Ministry of Defence works to keep Singapore protected with state-of-the-art armaments and well-trained armies. Here are some of the ways:

1. 20 F-35 fighter jets

“When the F-35s are operational, we will be in the Premier League,” said Minister Ng. 

Source: Wikipedia 

And no wonder. These stealth fighter jets are top-end, battle-tested military hardware They rank among the world’s most-advanced jets. Eight F-35As will now boost Singapore’s air defences beginning 2030. They have high-capacity 8,160 kg weapons payloads and advanced sensors which can share the battlefield situation with friendly forces. 

These F-35As augment the 12 F-35Bs which will begin defending Singapore’s skies come 2026. The F-35Bs have short take-off and landing capabilities which are suited for Singapore’s size, yet deliver a powerful 6,800 kg weapons payload. 

2. The 4th Invincible-class submarine launches

Singapore’s Invincible-class stealth submarines are custom-built with smarter and more advanced combat systems. They glide underneath Singapore’s shallow and busy waters at over 15 knots and can stay underwater for up to six weeks.

Source: Ministry of Defence 

Three of these Invincibles are on track to guard Singapore’s waters and the fourth launches later this year. 

“Submarines are a hefty investment and obviously we cannot use them for National Day Parade like we do with our planes. But rest assured that our submarines will silently and stealthily protect the waters around us,” said Minister Ng. 

3. Unmanned Vehicles for sea and land

The Ukraine-Russia war and the fight against Hamas terrorists in the Middle East show that unmanned platforms are now standard resources for armed conflicts. 

Source: Pioneer 

This year, the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) begins protecting Singapore’s busy shipping straits. Navy ships will also have Close-Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which will extend their surveillance range. 

“Our Army soldiers can use their own micro-UAVs. They will be an asset for soldiers on foot for last-mile surveillance,” added Minister Ng about how the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is integrating NSmen skills like drone piloting into military tactics. 

4. Cyberspace security

Our PAP MPs like Shawn Huang (Jurong GRC), Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC) and Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) pointed out that the digital domain is being increasingly contested. Ukrainian cyberspace is under near-constant attack, and hackers made Costa Rica’s government ineffective for months in 2022.  

Source: The Digital and Intelligence Service / Facebook 

The Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS) was formed in 2022 to build up Singapore’s cyberdefence competencies, said Minister Ng. Additionally, the SAF is building a digital range (completion date 2026) which will simulate cyber attacks on Government infrastructure — and better train our DIS to respond effectively to this black hat activity.      

5. SAFTI City for tech-enhanced urban warfare training

Cities will remain key sites of battle, and SAFTI City in northwestern Singapore opens later this year to train NSmen and army regulars in the art of 21st-century urban warfare.  It has three Radio Frequency Identification-connected (RFID) Instrumented Battle Circuits which simulate a perhaps all-too-familiar cityscape with high-rise interconnected buildings, underground drainage networks, multi-storey carparks and MRT stations. 

“Instrumented Battle Circuits are very good training because you can do an after-action review (AAR) and video playback to see what you have done wrong,” said Minister Ng. 

Source: Ministry of Defence / YouTube 

All these enhancements to Singapore’s defences will take about 3 per cent of the national GDP. At the same time, they are sound investments. Singapore is one of Asia’s top military powers because of PAP Government policies. Singaporeans do not wake up in the middle of the night worried about the existential threat of military invasion.    

“Singapore was ranked the sixth most peaceful country in the world in the latest Global Peace Index. I do not know, and do not want to find out, what our ranking would have been if we had not put in the necessary investments to build a strong SAF. I think that experiment would be too costly,” said Minister Ng.