Singapore Airshow 2018: US returns as largest overseas exhibitor, reaffirms defence partnership with Singapore

More than 170 US companies are exhibiting at the Singapore Airshow 2018, making up almost 30 per cent of the show floor. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM ST VIDEO
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SINGAPORE - The United States is again the largest international exhibitor at the airshow this year, indicating the region's importance to the US aerospace and defence industry while reaffirming Singapore as a strategic defence partner.

More than 170 US companies are exhibiting, making up almost 30 per cent of the show floor.

Charge d'affaires of the US embassy in Singapore Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath noted: "America's robust participation in the Singapore Airshow 2018 is another clear reflection of our unwavering commitment to the region."

Countries continue to look to the United States as an economic and security partner, given its excellent record in aviation, aerospace, defence, and leadership in aviation security, she added.

Among the aircraft making a debut at the show are the latest-generation F-35B fighter jets, developed by defence company Lockheed Martin, and the RQ-4B Global Hawk, an advanced unmanned spy plane by Northrop Grumman.

A high-level delegation, including senior leaders from the Department of State, Department of Defence, Department of Commerce, and the Federal Aviation Administration, are here for the week-long event.

Among them is the US Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein, who said Singapore and the US have a common strategic interest in maintaining order in the region.

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"All nations (in the region) have enjoyed increased prosperity because of a rules-based order, and freedom of commerce and freedom of navigation. So it's in our best interests to actually maintain that going forward," he said in an interview at the opening day of the airshow on Tuesday (Feb 6).

Gen Goldfein added that military options against potential adversaries will be stronger and more credible when they are offered in tandem with international partners.

Most of the US participation will take place in the nearly 2,000 sq m USA Partnership Pavilion, which features 111 exhibitors, including 65 which are new at the show.

Aerospace and defence exports accounted for 17 per cent of US exports to Singapore in 2016. This contributed US$49.5 billion (S$65.3 billion) in American aerospace and defence exports to the larger Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Asked whether the US will be using the airshow to push for more F-35 customers in the region, Ambassador Tina Kaidanow, who is principal deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said: "Whether it's F-35s, whether it's anything else, the Singaporeans have been very, very productive partners for us. We have provided them with an array of defence articles. I'm sure that there will be more in the future."

Ms Kaidanow is part of the delegation visiting the airshow.

Last Sunday, Singapore's air force chief Mervyn Tan said the RSAF was evaluating the F-35 as part of its long-term planning to maintain its edge in combat.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story said the F-35B fighter jet and the RQ-4B Global Hawk are both developed by Lockheed Martin. This is incorrect. The F-35B fighter jet is developed by Lockheed Martin but the RQ-4B Global Hawk is developed by Northrop Grumman. We are sorry for the error.

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