US defence contractors Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems are hoping to secure the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet upgrade contract.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had notified Congress last week of a potential foreign military sale (FMS) of an upgrade of Singapore's 60 F-16C/D/D+ aircraft for an estimated $2.43bn, without naming a prime contractor.
F-16 manufacturer Lockheed is hoping to win the contract in the wake of reductions in US and European military spending, Reuters reports.
Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein said, "Lockheed Martin has partnered with Singapore on the F-16 programme for more than 25 years and we look forward to continuing to support them in the future."
However, BAE is pressing for an open competition, stressing that it can modernise the existing F-16 fighters for less cost, even though the DSCA did not disclose whether there would be an open competition or a sole source award in its notification.
BAE spokesman Neil Franz was quoted by the news agency as saying that the company is very interested in the programme and would prefer an open competition.
"We want to be considered as a competitor for Singapore's F-16 upgrade programme and look forward to further discussions with them to support and deliver F-16 upgrade solutions tailored to their requirements," Franz said.
BAE had already finalised a $1bn contract to upgrade more than 130 South Korean F-16 fighter aircraft in 2013.
The upgrades are expected to address reliability, supportability and combat effectiveness concerns associated with the RSAF's ageing F-16 fleet, which in turn will enhance the service's ability to defend its borders and contribute to coalition operations with other allied forces.
As part of the upgrade, the aircraft will be equipped with advanced radar systems, new GPS equipment, friend-or-foe identification systems and an array of newer weapons, including laser-guided bombs.
Image: A Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcon in alert fighter taxing. Photo: courtesy of Luhai Wong.