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State Department approves $2.75B sale of F-35Bs to Singapore

The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of up to 12 F-35B aircraft to Singapore through the Foreign Military Sales program. Photo by Corey Hook/U.S. Air Force 
The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of up to 12 F-35B aircraft to Singapore through the Foreign Military Sales program. Photo by Corey Hook/U.S. Air Force 

Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The State Department has approved a possible sale of up to 12 F-35B aircraft to Singapore, with an estimated total cost of $2.75 billion.

The government of Singapore has asked to buy up to 12 F-35Bs -- an initial purchase of four, with an option to add eight more -- and up to 13 Pratt and Whitney F135 engines for the aircraft, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on Thursday.

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The contract also includes maintenance and technical support for the aircraft. The F-35B is the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the Lightning II, which was originally designed for use by the U.S. Marine Corps.

"This proposed sale of F-35s will augment Singapore's operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability, adding to an effective deterrence to defend its borders and contribute to coalition operations with other allied and partner forces," DSCA said in a press release. "Singapore will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces."

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In March, Singapore's defense minister said the country intended to buy four U.S.-made F-35 fighter planes.

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A July State Department report said the U.S. had $7.34 billion in active Foreign Military Sales cases with Singapore's government.

Prior military sales to Singapore have included F-16 Block 52 upgrades, F-16 pilot training and logistics support and AH64-D Apache helicopters.

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Prices for the F-35 have dropped at the urging of the Pentagon, with the F-35B being the most expensive of the program's three aircraft at $115.5 million per plane. The cheapest, the F-35A, is expected to drop to under $80 million per aircraft.

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