Singapore imports some German industriousness.
Key point: Singapore might be small, but its used its wealth to invest in a capable military.
On February 18, 2018, officials gathered to celebrate the launch of a new state-of-the-art submarine at a shipyard in Kiel, Germany. But unlike similar Type 212 submarines previously built there, the seventy-meter long diesel-submarine isn’t destined to shadow Russian submarines in the cold waters of the Baltic Sea.
Instead, the Invincible will lurk in the warmer Pacific waters around the Straits of Malacca in the service of the Republic of Singapore Navy. In so doing, the 2,000-ton submarine and her three forthcoming stablemates will become new factors in the ongoing multi-national competition for influence over the South China Sea.
Singapore is an island city-state sitting astride the Straits of Malacca, which offers the most direct route for commercial traffic between East Asia and the Indian Ocean—totaling one-fourth of all the world’s traded goods, including a quarter of all oil.
The wealthy but tiny nation has invested in an unusually capable and expensive military for its size—in 2017 it had the fifth highest defense spending per-capita on the planet. It has purchased major Western weapon systems including 100 F-16 and F-15SG fourth-generation jet fighters, Leopard 2 tanks and most recently, four to twelve F-35 stealth fighters.