6 June 2024

Thailand’s cabinet yesterday (Tuesday) endorsed the Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF) plan to buy four fighter jets, at an estimated cost of 13.8 billion baht, to replace its fleet of aging F-16 Falcon jets, which have been in service for about four decades.

The spending will be spread over the next four fiscal years.

Air Vice Marshal Prapas Sornchaidee, the RTAF spokesman, said today (Wednesday) that the air force has not yet specified the type of aircraft to be purchased.

He said two committees have been set up. One is chaired by RTAF deputy commander-in-chief ACM Thanasak Metanan to study the type of fighter jets to be bought. The other is headed by RTAF Aide-de-camp ACM Panpakdee Pattanakul and is responsible for the procurement, adding that full details of the project will be submitted to the cabinet in due course.

While no decision has been made about the type of jets to buy, according to the spokesman, the RTAF commander-in-chief is looking at the US based Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter, noting that its price has substantially reduced of late.

He also said that the final decision rests with the procurement committee.

The F-35 family includes the F-35A conventional take-off and landing variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing version and the F035C carrier model. All three are single seaters and have similar performance characteristics and identical advanced avionics.