Currently, Singapore is the country operating the most F-16 fighters in Southeast Asia, including 60, all of which are advanced F-16C/D block 52 aircraft.
Singapore F-16C/D block 52 aircraft are equiped with state-of the-art armament, including AIM-120 AMRAAM and the Israeli Python 4 missile linked to a DASH-3 Helmet Mounted Sight. This is also the most modern F-16 variant in the region today, much superior in electronic systems and weapons compared to the Indonesian and Thai F-16A/B models.
Singapore’s procurement of F-16s began in 1985, to replace the aging Hawker Hunters still in service with the Republic of Singapore Air Force. 60 F-16s were delivered between 1998 and 2003 and are split among three locally based squadrons and a training detachment based at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona. The fleet has undergone a number of incremental upgrades over their service lives, which included integration with the Lockheed-Martin Sniper targeting pod around 2008.
Singapore’s F-16s are also reportedly equipped with an Israeli electronic warfare suite, although this has never been officially acknowledged. Singapore was the second export customer after Israel to have the dorsal “spine” fitted to its F-16Ds, and its 20 Advanced Block 52 aircraft, which are also known as the F-16D+, are externally almost identical to Israel’s F-16I aircraft.
According to defensenews, Singapore is expected to soon have its upgraded F-16 multirole fighters, led by F-16 manufacturer Lockheed-Martin. Singapore’s defense minister had said in 2015 that the planned end date was 2022, although this now appears to be unlikely.
Singapore is one of three Asian nations currently upgrading its F-16 fleet to a roughly similar standard, with Taiwan and South Korea the other two. Taiwan has had issues upgrading its fleet of approximately 144 F-16A/B Block-20 aircraft, with delays caused by avionics integration issues and labour shortages in Taiwan, although it insists that the program will conclude as planned in 2022 despite the delays.