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Thailand to Procure 12 More Gripen Fighter Aircraft, Doubling Fleet to 24 Units

The Royal Thai Air Force aims to acquire 12 Gripen fighter aircraft to replace its aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets, scheduled for decommissioning in 2028. Presently, Thailand already possesses 12 Gripen fighter jets manufactured by Sweden, acquired in 2011.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) —  The Royal Thai Air Force is expected to unveil its development plans at an upcoming symposium next month, encompassing efforts to acquire 12 Gripen fighter jets manufactured by Sweden.

 As reported by the Bangkok Post, Air Force Commander Phanpakdee Pattanakul stated that the air force’s development plan will outline key aspects for its future, including the procurement of new equipment and weaponry.

The symposium on the development of the Royal Thai Air Force is scheduled to take place at the end of the next month.

“The development plan for the Royal Thai Air Force will include strategies to obtain new fighter aircraft to replace approximately 40 aging F-16s, slated for decommissioning in 2028,” he said.

The acquisition of new fighter aircraft for Southeast Asia is expected to commence in 2025 and will be implemented in three phases.

According to sources cited by the Bangkok Post, the Royal Thai Air Force plans to acquire four new fighter aircraft in each phase, and the proposal has already been submitted to the country’s Cabinet for approval.

Gripen

However, a decision on the type of fighter aircraft chosen by the Royal Thai Air Force has not been finalized, although the Gripen is the primary consideration, given that the country already possesses 12 aircraft developed by the Swedish company Saab Group.

All 12 Gripen fighter jets of Thailand are operational at an airbase in Surat Thani in the southern part of the country.

Thailand acquired the 12 Gripen fighter jets from Saab Group in 2011, but one of the aircraft crashed during an air show in Hatyai a few years ago.

 In addition to the Gripen, there is speculation that Thailand may be interested in the latest variant of the F-16 Block 70, after its efforts to purchase F-35 fighter jets from the United States were rejected by Washington.

However, media reports in Thailand suggest that the country’s air force is more inclined to increase the number of Gripen fighter jets it already owns.

Gripen

In March last year, the United States officially informed Thailand that its request to purchase F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft developed by defense firm Lockheed Martin was declined.

 The U.S. cited Thailand’s “lack of readiness” to operate these advanced aircraft, including concerns about infrastructure, safety measures for the airbase accommodating the F-35s, maintenance, pilots, and crew involved in operating the aircraft.

In contrast, the United States has offered other fighter aircraft options for Thailand to consider as replacements for the F-35.

Washington is said to have proposed the latest variant of the F-16 Block 70 and the F-15, possibly the “EX” variant, but there has been no response from the Royal Thai Air Force to date. — DSA

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