Thailand’s new fighter jets still on horizon

It will be the middle of this year before Thailand’s Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) knows whether or not Washington has approved the sale of F-35A Lightning II fighter jets.

RTAF Commander-in-Chief, ACM Alongkorn Wannarot said the air force was still negotiating preparations for the purchase of the jets, but the sale has yet to be approved by Washington. The United States military is currently inspecting the areas where the F-35A fleet would be stationed.

Alongkorn said…

“If everything goes according to the plan, I expect the deal will be cleared by the middle of the year.”

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The procurement is an internal matter for the air force, but Alongkorn expects the Foreign Ministry to assist in negotiations with Washington.

The fighters are part of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II series of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft. Washington only approves their sale to close allies. In the Asia Pacific region, Australia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea already have their shiny stock of F-35A.

Last month, Alongkorn said the Royal Thai Air Force had informed the US government that it wanted to buy F-35A aircraft to replace its ageing F-16s, which are nearing decommission, as part of the air force’s plan to modernise.

Top 10 Iconic RAAF Aircraft - 2. Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II | Air Force 100

Alongkorn said the air force is also considering the purchase of a new radar system to replace its current 10-year-old Erieye system. The Erieye is an airborne early warning and control system developed by Sweden’s Saab Electronic Defence Systems.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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