MELBOURNE, Australia — Singapore and the United States have signed a memorandum of understanding for the Southeast Asian island nation to set up a fighter jet training detachment in the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
The nonbinding agreement, which was signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, is meant for approximately a squadron’s worth of Republic of Singapore Air Force fighter jets and associated personnel.
According to a U.S. Defense Department readout of the meeting, it also calls for the construction of hangars, aprons and support facilities for the detachment footprint at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. The readout added that the training presence will begin around 2029.
Singapore’s Defence Ministry said the agreement was inked after a meeting on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum in California Dec. 6-7 where they discussed a range of issues on the bilateral defense relationship. The deal also followed the conclusion of in-depth studies with the U.S. on a number of factors, according to the ministry, including suitability of the training area, infrastructure and other types of support available.
The memorandum is to cover the deployment of Singaporean Boeing F-15SG and Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter aircraft as well as other supporting assets, including the Gulfstream 550 airborne early warning aircraft, to Andersen Air Force Base. Singapore recently selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace its fleet of 60 F-16s in the 2030s.
A Singaporean spokesperson told Defense News the fighter presence in Guam will be on a long-term basis similar to other training detachments the country has in the United States. These include an F-16 detachment at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona; an F-15SG detachment at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; and a Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter detachment at Silverbell Army Heliport, Arizona.
In the wake of the agreement, Esper and Ng affirmed the importance of continuing to enhance their countries’ defense partnership following the renewal of the U.S.-Singapore memorandum of understanding by U.S. President Donald Trump and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in September.
Esper expressed appreciation for the regional access Singapore provides to U.S. forces. The island serves as the main maintenance hub for U.S. Navy littoral combat ships in the western Pacific. Singapore has agreed to host and support up to four LCS deployments at any one time.
Singapore’s Changi naval base is also the only berth in the Southeast Asian region deep enough for U.S. Navy aircraft carriers to moor alongside. A logistics unit that supports U.S. aircraft and vessel movements in the region is also located in Singapore.
Land-scarce Singapore, an island nation of 280 square miles, lacks the training areas and airspace for its Air Force to train. In addition to the U.S., Singapore also has long-term pilot training detachments in Australia and France, and it regularly deploys aircraft for training in Australia, India and Thailand.
Singapore’s military has also conducted training with the U.S. in Guam since the early 1990s in the form of the Singapore Army’s bilateral exercises with the U.S. Marine Corps and the Republic of Singapore Navy’s participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises in the waters off Guam.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.