SINGAPORE (Agencies): Singapore’s Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has unveiled an impressive technological leap by outfitting its fleet of US-manufactured F-16 Falcon fighter jets with the formidable Israeli Python-5 air-to-air missiles, alongside other advanced upgrades.
This development was officially disclosed through an information board displayed at Paya Lebar Air Base, as the RSAF prepares to celebrate its 55th anniversary with a grand open house event this weekend.
The Python-5 missile, considered one of the world’s most advanced air-to-air weaponry, boasts a relatively short range of 20 kilometers. However, what sets it apart is its remarkable ability to engage targets from any direction, even having the capacity to autonomously track and lock onto its target after launch. Notably, Singapore’s neighboring countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, and India, also operate the Python-5 missile system, underscoring its regional significance.
Speculation about this upgrade had been circulating on the internet for several months, with eagle-eyed observers noting the presence of Python-5 missiles on RSAF F-16 aircraft wings.
The integration of the Python-5 missile into the F-16 presented a significant interoperability challenge, as seen in the case of Ukraine, where F-16s supplied to Ukrainian forces were unable to employ the British-made Storm Shadow cruise missile, concurrently provided to Kiev.
To enable the use of the advanced Python-5 missile, Singapore’s F-16s underwent critical upgrades acquired from the US Air Force. These enhancements have not only empowered the aircraft to employ Python-5 missiles but have also equipped them with satellite-guided and laser-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) smart bombs. Furthermore, the F-16s now feature the AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array radar and the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System. Notably, the latter technology is also produced by an Israeli company, Elbit, and enables pilots to engage a target simply by looking at it.
In the coming decade, Singapore plans to replace its F-16 fleet with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, a stealthy aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing or conventional runway operations. This transition marks another significant stride in Singapore’s commitment to maintaining a state-of-the-art air force.