The presence of American F-35 Lightning IIs continues to increase in Asia as Singapore adds eight more stealth fighters to its fleet.

After thorough deliberation, Singapore announced it would acquire eight additional F-35B Lightning II fighter jets last week, ramping up its advanced jet capabilities to twelve. The small South East Asian country had initially signed a deal to purchase four “B” variants of the sophisticated warplane in 2019 and had received approval from the US State Department in early 2020, with expected deliveries to start in 2026.

These advanced American jets will replace the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) aging fleet of F-16C/D by 2030, consequently becoming the first country outside the United States to operate the F-35B version exclusively from land bases.

Following an extensive and robust evaluation, MINDEF will exercise the option and purchase eight additional F-35Bs, which is necessary to enable the Republic of Singapore Air Force to strengthen its next-generation capabilities as part of the Singapore Armed Forces 2040 transformation,” said Defense Minister of Singapore Ng Eng Hen.

Among the remarkable features of the fifth-generation fighter jet, Singapore particularly highlighted the aircraft’s flexible Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) capabilities, allowing them to operate reliably even without long, often vulnerable runways. Due to the unique geographic structure of the country, the warplane could bolster its air power—especially with China’s growing aggressiveness in the region.