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SINGAPORE

Arms Sales Tables | Country Profile | Background Information


Arms Sales Tables

Country Profile

This small but relatively prosperous tropical island (239 sq. miles; per capita GDP: $26,300 in terms of purchasing power parity) on the tip of the Malaysian peninsula has been dominated by the People's Action Party (PAP) since autonomy from Britain in 1959. According to the U.S. State Department's 1999 human rights report, the government has not taken any "significant concrete steps to change the wide array of laws and government practices, or the informal levers of government influence, that lie behind the limitations on civil and political rights."  These include intimidating journalists, manipulating court proceedings to against governmental critics, and restricting freedom of assembly and association.  Women and foreign workers face discrimination.  

Military ties between the United States and Singapore have grown in importance with the signing in 1990 and 1992 of facility access agreements. These agreements expand U.S. access to ports and airfields in Singapore. The 1992 agreement shifts the logistics headquarters for the U.S. Seventh Fleet from the now defunct Subic Bay naval base in the Philippines to Singapore. In addition, Singapore's pilots train in the United States, as part of a leasing agreement for F-16 C/D fighter jets.

Recent American arms sales to Singapore include everything from F-16 fighter jets (the RSAF has 38 F-16s, twelve of which are on lease for use in training in the United States) to riot control equipment ($18,883 worth of DCS in FY97).  Missile deliveries worth $12.7 million in FY97-98 were so sensitive that specifics are classified.  Singapore frequently acquires cutting-edge technologies, many of which are new to the South-East Asia region; for instance, it was the first recipient of the upgraded CH-47SD (Super D) version Chinook helicopter, and will likely be the first regional recipient of advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM), which have ‘beyond-visual range’ capabilities. 

Singapore has a small active army of 55,000. Because of manpower shortages, the Singapore Armed Forces have been "investing in firepower...to maintain their combat effectiveness with fewer men," according to Singapore's top general. Recent purchases include German missile patrol boats and twelve American F-16 fighter-bombers. Singapore also operates E-2C Hawkeye radar planes, and U.S.-made A-4 and F-5 combat aircraft. However, even with these modern weapons, Singapore could not to deter its most likely adversary, China, given the tremendous disparity in force size.

Background Information 

Last Updated:  November 2000

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