Singapore Drops Eurofighter from Critical Contract
Singapore has dropped the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet from a $1 billion-plus warplane order, narrowing the race to replace its locally-upgraded but aging fleet of A-4SU Super Skyhawk light attack aircraft (U.S. Sen. John McCain was flying an earlier variant of the A-4 Skyhawk when he was shot down over Vietnam). “The committed schedule for the delivery of the Typhoon and its systems did not meet the requirements of the Singapore Air Force,” said Singapore’s Ministry of Defence in a statement. This decision narrows the race for the pivotal Singapore contract to the French Dassault’s Rafale jet and Boeing Co.’s F-15.
Singapore is known globally as a sophisticated arms buyer, and its choice for its 20-plane order could influence other countries considering new fighters. The Singapore order is also pivotal because Boeing needs orders for the F-15 to ensure continued production, while Dassault and Eurofighter are hunting for their first export orders from beyond Europe. The Rafale has yet to win its first export order after Dassault lost out on orders from Norway (F-35 or Eurofighter), the Netherlands (F-35 Joint Strike Fighter) and South Korea (F-15K).
Singapore’s decision deals a new blow to the four-nation Eurofighter consortium, which includes Franco-German Airbus parent EADS, Britain’s BAE Systems, and Italian Finmeccanica’s Alenia Aeronautica. Until recently Eurofighter was confident that its performance in Singapore’s 2004 evaluation had gone a long way to answering critics questioning the aircraft’s capabilities. The multi-national December 2004 announcement of $16 billion in funds for Eurofighter Tranche 2 production and development was also seen as a significant boost to the plane’s export prospects.
The Eurofighter is slated to enter service with its development partners UK, Germany, and Italy, as well as Spain,
Greece, and Austria. There has been talk of order cutbacks from several of these countries, however.
Although it has not been shut out on the export front like the Rafale, the Eurofighter has also lost its share of potential export orders beyond its initial consortium partners: Australia (F-35 JSF), Czech Republic (JAS-39 Gripen), The Netherlands (F-35 JSF), Poland (F-16 block 52), South Korea (F-15K). Greece (UPDATE – the deal went sour; Greece bought F-16 block 52s) and Norway (Eurofighter or F-35) are still making up their minds.
Singapore currently has a mixture of F-16s and locally-upgraded F-5 and RF-5 fighters in their combat inventory, as well as the soon to be retired A-4SUs. Singapore-based sources told Reuters the French Rafale would probably be competitively priced, but that Boeing could benefit from Singapore’s close links to the United States. Singapore hosts a U.S. military communications and logistics command centre, U.S. Navy ships regularly call at Changi Naval Base, and U.S. aircraft are permitted to use the republic’s air fields. In May 2003, the two countries signed a bilateral free trade agreement.
- DID (Sept 7/05) – Singapore’s RSAF Decides to Fly Like an Eagle
- DID (Aug 25/05) – F-15E Strike Eagle Taking Off With Singapore Contract?
Sources & Further Reading
- Jane’s Defense Weekly Report
- Reuters (April 21/05) – Singapore drops Eurofighter from jet bid
- AerospaceWeb.org Aircraft Museum: A-4 Skyhawk
- Carlo Kopp, Air Power Australia (August 2000) – Eurofighter Typhoon – Demon or Lemon? His analysis and conclusions explain a great deal re: Singapore’s decision, actually. An extremely informative, thorough analysis that directly compares the Eurofighter with the F-22, F-15, F/A-18, and Su-30 family in many dimensions. Avoids both unwarranted hype and excessive negativity; very fair, fact-based and excellent.
- The Joint Center for International and Security Studies (Oct. 2002) – The Information Revolution in Military Affairs – Prospects for Asia: Singapore and the Revolution in Military Affairs [PDF]
- DID – F-15K’s First Flight Successful
- DID – Turkey considering Eurofighters
- DID – Eurofighter Round Two to be Signed Immediately
- Aviation Week & Space Technology (March 1/04) – Fighter Makers Reassess Options. Discusses Singapore’s initial shortlist, adds predictions re: the world fighter market, and notes that Singapore represents the last chance for the two European aircraft to prove themselves through victory in an influential export market before the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter influences buyers (some good comments on the F-35 program, too). Analysis by the Teal Group.