WASHINGTON - Singapore agreed to host a deployment of US P-8 Poseidon spy planes for the first time, as it signed an enhanced deal with the United States on Monday (Dec 7) to boost military cooperation in a broad range of areas, including - for the first time - cyberdefence and biosecurity.
A joint statement from Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his US counterpart Ashton Carter said the deployment would promote "greater inter-operability with regional militaries and provide timely support for regional HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) and maritime security efforts".
Singapore had previously played host to surveillance aircraft from other countries.
US analysts see the ability of the United States to launch its surveillance aircraft as a boon to its operations in the South China Sea. In October, the US navy conducted a controversial Freedom of Navigation Operation near disputed areas in the waters.
The announcement came after a meeting between the two defence chiefs at the Pentagon, where they signed the enhance Defence Cooperation Agreement.
According to Singapore's Ministry of Defence, the agreement enhances links in areas like policy and transnational terrorism while laying out new areas of cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, cyberdefence, biosecurity and public communications.
The pact was signed in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of a 1990 Memorandum of Understanding and the 10th anniversary of the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement.
Dr Ng was received with an enhanced honour cordon at the Pentagon on Monday, in a sign of the growing ties between the two countries.
The honour cordon, which includes a military band playing the national anthem of the visiting country, is reserved for America's closest allies.
During their meeting, Dr Ng and Mr Carter reaffirmed the importance of a strong US presence in Asia Pacific and they exchanged views on various other security issues.
Dr Ng is visiting Washington from Dec 6 to 10. Apart from his meeting with the US defence secretary, he will meet congressional leaders and high-ranking officials from the Pentagon. He is also due to deliver a speech at the Washington think tank, the Centre for a New American Security.