21 Apr 05. Singapore dropped the Eurofighter Typhoon from its shortlist of new-generation combat aircraft, leaving the French-built Rafale and US-made Boeing F-15 in a dogfight for the contract. The deal is estimated to be worth about one billion US dollars and is being closely watched in the international arms market because of Singapore’s reputation as a demanding buyer whose choice could influence other customers.
The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said the Typhoon was a “very capable aircraft” but the committed schedule for delivery of the aircraft and its systems “did not meet the requirements” of the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
In a statement, the ministry said it “has narrowed down the selection for the new fighter replacement programme to Dassault’s Rafale and Boeings F-15.”
Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean declined to comment further when asked by reporters at a public engagement, saying the evaluation process was still underway.
“We are under no time pressure and we’ll make sure that we get the best aircraft possible,” he said. The wealthy city-state, which has one of the most modern armed forces in Southeast Asia, has carried out a thorough evaluation process for new warplanes to replace a squadron of ageing A4SU Super Skyhawk fighters. Its choice is expected to be announced this year. A squadron typically has 20-24 aircraft.
France, which hosts a squadron of Singaporean Skyhawks at a training facility in southwestern Cazaux, has been lobbying strongly for the Rafale but Singapore is a close American ally. French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie visited Singapore last month to urge the republic to pick the Rafale and no less than President Jacques Chirac himself had pushed for the plane during a visit to Singapore last October.
French firm DCN won a contract to build new frigates for the Singapore Navy in 2000.
For its part, US aerospace giant Boeing has pointed to the F-15 Eagle’s performance in actual combat as one of its main advantages. In addition the F-15 has the most comprehensive suite of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles available and the largest payload radius.
Thomas Lillis, Asia-Pacific director of Boeing’s integrated defense systems, said in Singapore last year that 48 F-15Es destroyed 60 percent of then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard division during the Gulf war.
In addition to the A4SU Super Skyhawks to be replaced by the new-generation fighter, Singapore currently operates F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-5 Tigers.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a multi-role combat plane built by a consortium involving the French-Spanish-German group European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Alenia.The authoritative military affairs journal Jane’s Defence Weekly, which broke the news of the Typhoon’s rejection Wednesday, said pricing and timetable issues “were key concerns that derailed Eurofighter’s bid. “Eurofighter had been confident of its prospects for sale in Singapore and the nation’s shock rejection unravels one of its most important prospective customers,” Jane’s said in a statement. Export customers beyond the original buyers Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain “are crucial to enable Eurofighter to make a profit. “However there are problems and only Austria is confirmed while South Korea and now Singapore have fallen through and the Greece deal seems very uncertain,” Jane’s said.
The software ground-to-air package being developed for the Eurofighter Typhoon will not be ready or tested in the timeframe required for the Singapore requirement
This si good news for Rafale which was once regarded as the also-ran for these requirements and follows on from the announcement that Saudi Arabia is also interested in the system. It may be that Singapore will choose rafale to be different from it South Korean neighbor which is reported to be looking at another 40