Thailand to finance 4 new fighter aircraft after announcing interest in F-35A

 

The F-35A Lightning II JSF, these examples with the Royal Australian Air Force. Photo c/o RAAF.


The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has confirmed that the Thai Government has supported a plan to procure at least 4 new fighter aircraft starting fiscal year 2023.


The Thai cabinet is looking at appropriating a budget worth THB13.8 billion (US$413.6 million) for the proposed plan, to be spread in a 4-year period.


While no specific aircraft model was mentioned, this plan came as the RTAF’s chief Air Chief Marshal Napadej Dhupatemiya announced that they are interested in procuring 8 new 5th-generation F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters from American aviation giant Lockheed Martin.


The RTAF is looking at replacing their ageing fleet of F-5E/F Tiger II and F-16A/B Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, most of which have been in RTAF service since the 1980s.


The service currently has a squadron of Sweden’s JAS-39C/D Gripen, which is currently the RTAF’s most advanced fighter aircraft.


It was believed that the JAS-39C/D Gripen was originally intended to replace the RTAF’s F-5 fighter fleet, but no additional aircraft were ordered after delivery of the first 12 units.


But the RTAF said it has found that the F-35A Lightning II is actually cheaper than the latest JAS-39E/F Gripen as the American fighter has started to mature and production in full scale for several years now.


The RTAF will formally evaluate different fighter aircraft to determine their suitability to their requirements, with two committees tasked to provide their assessment.


US Government approval is needed for the acquisition of F-35A Lightning II fighters, which has not been provided so far, and there are no confirmation of any request from the Thai Government for an approval of sale.




[1] Nikkei Asia

[2] Reuters

[3] Bangkok Post


Thailand to finance 4 new fighter aircraft after announcing interest in F-35A Thailand to finance 4 new fighter aircraft after announcing interest in F-35A Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on January 13, 2022 Rating: 5

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