VICTORIA, Australia — Singapore is moving closer to ordering the Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter, according to program head US Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan.

General Bogdan also noted increased activity from potential foreign military sales (FMS) customers for the F-35, including Israel, which has recently committed to a further 14 aircraft.

"On the FMS sales front we're getting an increase in customer interest in the airplane," he said here at the Australian International Airshow at the Avalon Airport.

For full coverage of the 2015 Australian International Air Show, visit the Defense News Avalon Show Daily.

"We have a number of other [potential] foreign military sales customers that are asking us to start a greater dialogue with them in terms of the airplane, including Singapore."

General Bogdan said that the joint program office (JPO) has been exchanging information with the Republic of Singapore Air Force for a number of years to support their decision making within their and that he was responding to their timeline. in terms of information to support decision making.

"Over the past year, the discussions we have had have deepened [and] their request for information has gotten broader, so that would indicate to us that Singapore has begun to take the next step toward making a decision," he said.

However, he noted that the JPO did not yet have a timeline and his organization was responding to what was requested. and he said that The government of Singapore had not indicated which F-35 variant it was interested in and had requested information on all three: the conventional takeoff, the short-takeoff vertical-landing, and the carrier model. the CTOL F-35A, STOVL F-35B and the F-35C carrier variant (CV).

General Bogdan hosted athe media roundtable on the opening day of Avalon 2015 with Australia's F-35 program head, Air Vice Marshal Chris Deeble. Deeble said the project to acquire a total of 72 conventional F-35As for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was on track to deliver an initial operating capability by the end of 2020.

However, AVM Deeble identified several a number of key areas of the F-35 program that were causing him concern, noting that the Australian project office carries out an independent analysis of the technical problems.

"Understanding what capability we will get at the end of the development phase is really important," he said.

"What does worry me is sustainment and training and support to the aircraft. The autonomic logistics global system (ALIS) is still evolving. It is behind, it is late and we have to do more work to accelerate that and understand what that means in a national context."


Nigel Pittaway is the Australia correspondent for Defense News.

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