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