Don't Underestimate Tiny Singapore's Military

Charlie Gao

Key Point: Singapore has invested heavily in western technology and hardware.

Despite its small geographical size, Singapore fields one of the most advanced and well-equipped militaries in South East Asia. It spends more on its military than any of its neighbors. Being a tiny city-state, one of the strongest arms of the Singaporean military is the Republic of Singapore Air Force. But how does it stack up against its neighbors, from the small to the big? Does Western tech really provide the level of advantage it needs to defend itself?

The backbone of the RSAF is a fleet of F-15 and F-16 fighters. The RSAF fields forty F-15SG Eagles, forty F-16Ds, and twenty F-16Cs. These are augmented by around thirty F-5S Tiger II and some A-4 Skyhawks in storage. Singapore also fields an AWACS capability with five Israeli modified Gulfstream 550 jets.

Out of all those aircraft, Singapore’s strongest fighter is definitely the F-15SG, itself a variant of the F-15E. The most important advantage the F-15SG has is the APG-63(V)3 AESA radar, which one of the best aircraft mounted radars on any fighter in the region.

AESAs also have the capability to perform electronic warfare (EW) tasks: they can actively degrade the lock of an active radar guided missile while scanning at the same time due to their electronic nature. The RSAF F-16s are also rumored to be undergoing similar upgrades to receive AESAs of their own.

The F-15SG also has an IRST system, which gives it the capability to detect and lock onto aircraft with infrared missiles without even switching on the radar. The IRST bulb is positioned on a pod pylon under the left engine of the F-15SG and is directly integrated into the plane.

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