Thailand considering acquisition of 3 JAS-39 Gripen fighters from Sweden


The JAS-39E Gripen, this example with the Brazilian Air Force. Photo c/o Saab.

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) is reported to be looking at potentially procuring three JAS-39 Gripen fighters from Sweden’s Saab, after the United States rejected a request for the acquisition of the 5th generation F-35A Lightning II made by Lockheed Martin. 

This was reported by Bangkok Post based on a RTAF source’s information revealed on 15 June 2023.

The RTAF previously acquired 12 JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters, with all aircraft delivered in 2013 and assigned with Wing 7 based at Surat Thani,  but one aircraft was lost in an airshow accident in 2017.

Bangkok Post reported that the RTAF has not yet formed a panel to determine and select a replacement for their F-16 Fighting Falcon, which are early-model F-16A/B OCU and ADF variants that have been in service since the late 1980s 

As an alternative to the F-35A Lightning II, the United States was said to have offered to sell the 4.5-generation F-16 Block 70/72 Viper and the F-15EX Eagle II fighters to the RTAF to prepare the RTAF for the future procurement of the F-35A. But it appears that the Thai Government is not prepared to make a commitment to fund for such program.

Aside from a long delivery lead time for the F-35A which is said to be close to 10 years, the US requires Thailand to construct and provide for specific infrastructure and facilities for support, training and security for the F-35As.

Instead, it only has enough to acquire a small number of fighters, with the JAS-39 Gripen eyed since it already operates the type and would not require for additional infrastructure to be built. 

It was not determined if Thailand is interested in the JAS-39C/D Gripen similar to what it already uses, or the newer JAS-39E/F Gripen. The former is already out of production although used aircraft could be sourced from the Swedish Air Force. The latter has already started production and is available for export, with Brazil being the first export customer of the variant.

Bangkok Post

Thailand considering acquisition of 3 JAS-39 Gripen fighters from Sweden Thailand considering acquisition of 3 JAS-39 Gripen fighters from Sweden Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on June 19, 2023 Rating: 5

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