Singapore is granting the United States permission to fly sophisticated surveillance aircraft out of its territory to better monitor China’s island-building in the South China Sea, Foreign Policy has learned.The defense agreement to be unveiled Monday reflects Singapore’s concerns over China’s assertive stance on territorial disputes. It also points to a broader trend among countries in the region to seek out the United States as a counterweight to China’s expansionist moves in the contested waterway.Two Pentagon officials said the deal will permit the U.S. Navy to operate P-8 Poseidon planes from Singapore’s airfields, providing Washington with a strategic vantage point to track Beijing’s military activity in the South China Sea, which is home to more than $5 trillion worth of commercial shipping.
That’s not terribly surprising, as Singapore already lets the US use Singapore as a forward operating base for its LCS deployments to the Pacific.
What is interesting is that apparently Malaysia has extended a similar invitation for P-8 operations. Relations with Malaysia are pretty friendly, but they, like Indonesia, generally maintain that they are non-aligned.