Aucune declaration officielle que Boeing a gagne.
SINGAPORE (AFX) - Singapore is in the final stages of negotiations with Boeing Co for its new generation of fighters, indicating the US-made F-15 has won over the French-built Rafale, the defense ministry (MINDEF) said.
It said in a statement it is 'now in the process of seeking final clarifications and contract negotiation with Boeing' for the contract, estimated in the industry to be worth about 1 bln usd.
The Rafale and F-15 were earlier shortlisted for the deal after the Eurofighter Typhoon was knocked out. The new fighter will replace a squadron of aging A4SU Super Skyhawks.
MINDEF spokesmen declined to say outright that the F-15 had finally won, sticking to its statement that 'in response to media queries on the status' of the new fighter program, 'MINDEF is now in the process of seeking final clarifications and contract negotiation with Boeing.'
Robert Karniol, Asia-Pacfic editor of Jane's Defence Weekly, said he is 'a bit surprised' by the announcement.
'It's an extraordinarily complicated selection process,' the Bangkok-based Karniol told Agence France-Presse.
He said the Rafale would have had 'longer legs' as the new-generation aircraft for Singapore.
'I don't see the F-15 twenty years from now being particularly effective in that environment,' he said.
'The Singaporean procurement will be done in at least two phases and this decision is part one ... there is a part two to follow.'
'Either they will buy some more F-15s or another type of aircraft and my guess is if they select the F-15 now, they would go for another aircraft in phase two.'
The ministry statement comes two weeks after the US defense department notified the US Congress of the possible sale to Singapore of weapons, logistics and training as part of a proposed F-15 fighter deal.
The weapons include advanced supersonic air-to-air missiles and satellite-guided bombs.
The new fighters will replace a squadron of Singapore's aging A4SU Super Skyhawk fighter jets.
'This proposed sale includes weapons and logistics for the F-15 aircraft,' the defense security and cooperation agency said in a statement.
The defense agency said the proposed sale was worth 741 mln usd if all options are exercised.
The weapons include 200 AIM 120C advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM); 50 joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) with 500-pound warheads; 30 AGM 154A-1 joint standoff weapons with 500-pound warheads; 30 AGM 154C joint standoff weapons; and 200 AIM 9X Sidewinder missiles.
Last April Singapore dropped the Eurofighter Typhoon from its shortlist, leaving the Rafale and F-15 in a final duel.
Defence spending for the current financial year of 9.26 bln sgd accounts for 31.2 pct of the national budget.
France, which hosts a squadron of Singaporean Skyhawks at a training facility, has been lobbying strongly for the Rafale but Singapore is a close American ally.
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie visited Singapore earlier this year to urge the republic to pick the Rafale and President Jacques Chirac had pushed the plane during a visit to Singapore last October.
The Rafale is a multi-role combat aircraft, capable of performing a wide range of missions day or night in all-weather conditions.
For its part Boeing has pointed to the F-15 Eagle's performance in actual combat as one of its main advantages.
In addition to the Skyhawks to be replaced by the new-generation fighter, Singapore currently operates F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-5 Tigers.