March 4 (UPI) -- Singapore's armed forces intend to purchase four U.S.-made F-35 fighter planes, the country's defense minister said.
"Our LOR [letter of request] will request an initial acquisition of four F-35s, with the option of a subsequent eight if we decide to proceed," Defense minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen on Friday told Singapore's Committee of Supply, which oversees government expenditures. "As required by U.S. law for foreign military sales, the U.S. Congress must approve the sale of F-35s."
The short takeoff/vertical landing planes, made by Lockheed Martin, cost between $90 million and $115 million each, with prices falling because of a current backlog of orders from the U.S. military and those of 10 other countries, including Japan and South Korea. Singapore's military currently uses F-15SG and F-16 fighter planes.
Ng said that Singapore has the endorsement of the administration of President Donald Trump and of the U.S. Defense Department for the purchase.
"In fact, President Trump wrote to PM Lee [Hsien Loong, Singapore's prime minister] last month welcoming Singapore's plans to acquire the F-35," he added. "During my meeting with Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan at the Munich Security Conference two weeks ago, he also said that the U.S. was greatly appreciative of Singapore's decision."
Ng added that Singapore also intends to purchase multi-role combat vessels, which can deploy unmanned air and sea drones, by 2030, as well as armored fighting vehicles.
The country's homeland security network of optical scanners and coastline radar will be expanded as well, he said.