MELBOURNE, Australia – The fallout from the global COVID-19 pandemic delayed the deliveries of new submarines and helicopters from Europe and the United States to Singapore.
Deliveries of its F-35B fifth-generation stealth fighters to remain on track, however.
Speaking to media via video conference during Singapore’s annual armed forces day, Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said that the delivery of the first of four Type 218SG submarines from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, which are also known as the Invincible class, will be pushed back from 2021 to sometime in 2022.
Similarly, Ng confirmed that initial deliveries of the Airbus Helicopters H225M medium-lift and Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavylift helicopters for the Republic of Singapore Air Force or RSAF, which were due to start at the end of this year, will now take place in early 2021 instead.
He attributed the delays to disruptions in global supply chains arising from the pandemic, although he expects the delivery of the first four of up to 12 Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to be on track for a 2026 start.
Training spooling up
Ng also said that military training is getting back on track, after the suspension of basic training for the conscript army with enlistees sent home. Basic military training resumed in late May, and overseas military training is also expected to restart soon.
This includes the participation in the upcoming Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC multinational naval exercise, which is due to take place in Hawaii in August. Singapore will send a frigate to the exercise, which will be taking place amid precautions and restrictions to limit to potential spread of COVID-19.
The RSAF is also in discussions with Australia about resuming training. The two countries have agreements in place for Singaporean military aircraft to conduct unilateral training in northern Australia, utilizing the vast airspace, good weather and training ranges that are not available in Singapore.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.