RTAF to procure either Gripen E-series or F-16 Block 70 jets

Photo courtesy of Gripen (skiesmag.com)

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) is set to procure either Swedish-produced Gripen E-series or American F-16 Block 70 fighter jets later this year. The information came to light during an address by RTAF chief Phanpakdee Pattanakul to senior air force officials at the RTAF headquarters.

Phanpakdee noted that the original plan to purchase American F-35 fighter jets was no longer feasible, leaving the Gripen E-series and the F-16 Block 70 as potential replacements. The move comes as the RTAF seeks to decommission three of its seven fighter squadrons due to the age of the aircraft, each of which comprises 12 jets.

Phanpakdee stressed the need to maintain the existing number of fighters to uphold training, operations, and a balance with neighbouring nations. A selection committee has been established to determine which of the two shortlisted fighter jets will deliver the best value for money.

A source revealed that the RTAF has requested 19 billion baht (US$530 million) for the fiscal year beginning in October 2025 to procure the first four new fighter jets. If the cabinet approves this request, the procurement process should kick off between May and June this year.

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The jet procurement plan is a component of the RTAF’s white paper that outlines its future development targets. Other significant development areas include a research and development plan to leverage quantum AI technology. This technology combines quantum computing with advanced machine learning for data analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making, Phanpakdee explained, reported Bangkok Post.

This R&D strategy will be rolled out as the air RTAF reduces its personnel without compromising its capacity.

In related news, the RTAF relinquished ownership of Kantarat Golf Course near Don Mueang Airport to allow for airport expansion. Under Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s initiative, the Defence Ministry is transferring unused military land for public benefit.

Compensation negotiations are ongoing, enabling the development of Thupatemi Golf Course and a new sports complex. Additionally, a sub-committee is addressing Sattahip district’s demand for improved electricity services through the Provincial Electricity Authority.

Aviation NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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