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Singapore Upgrades F-16s With Israeli Python-5 Interceptor Missiles

F-16 fighter jetInternationalIndiaAfricaThe Python-5 is among the most advanced air-to-air missiles in the world, having a relatively short range of 20 kilometers but being able to attack targets in any direction and even being ordered to find their target and lock on after being fired. Singapore’s neighbors of Vietnam, the Philippines, and India all operate the Python-5 as well.The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has revealed that its US-made F-16 Falcon fighter jets are now carrying the Python-5, an air-to-air missile made by Israel, alongside other advanced new technology upgrades.The public disclosure came via an information board at Paya Lebar Air Base, where the RSAF is preparing for a major open house event this weekend to commemorate the 55th anniversary of its foundation. However, corners of the internet have speculated about the development for several months after spotting photos that seemed to show Python-5s on RSAF F-16 wings.

Singapore has 62 F-16C/Ds from the Block 52 cohort, which it bought in several batches between 1998 and 2004. These are of the same model from which Israel’s custom-designed F-16I Soufa was derived, likely making arming RSAF jets with the Israeli missile easier.

AnalysisF-16’s For Ukraine Can’t Carry Storm Shadows: Experts Say Mishap ‘More of Same’ From NATO22 August, 18:10 GMTElsewhere, interoperability has been a problem for the F-16, such as in Ukraine, where the fighter jet is being supplied to Ukrainian forces but won’t be able to use the British-made Storm Shadow cruise missile that has also been given to Kiev.

Singapore has had the Python-5 since at least 2018, when it purchased several SPYDER systems from Haifa-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which are a mobile surface-to-air missile platform.

According to US military-oriented media, Singapore’s F-16s are likely able to use the advanced Python-5 missile because of recent upgrades to the aircraft obtained from the US Air Force. Those upgrades have also allowed the jet to begin using satellite-guided and laser-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) smart bombs, the AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array radar, and the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, the lattermost of which is also built by an Israeli company — Elbit — and allows pilots to fire a missile at a target by looking at it.SIngapore is slated to begin replacing its F-16s over the next decade with F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, a stealthy aircraft that can takeoff and land vertically or on a runway.

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