Thailand Seeks Collaboration with the US and Sweden to Replace 12 Fighter Jets

Jun 2024

It has been revealed that Thailand’s air force chief plans to visit Sweden and the U.S. ¡ to discuss the procurement of new fighter jets, potentially including a technology transfer agreement to support Thailand’s developing arms industry. Air Chief Marshal Panpakdee Pattanakul is considering either the Swedish-made Gripen or the U.S.-made F-16 Block 70/72 to replace a squadron of 12 aging F-16 As and F-16 ADFs. This plan was detailed in a white paper released earlier in 2024, outlining the Thai air force’s security assessment for the 2024-2037 period.

According to Defense Ministry sources, the air force needs to finalize the deal soon, with a special procurement committee set to decide in June 2024 which squadron will proceed. Cabinet approval for funding from the 2024-2025 fiscal year budget has been granted in principle, though it may still face cuts before the budget vote. The initial phase of acquiring four jets, out of a planned 12, is estimated to cost THB 19 billion (USD 517 million).

To gain political support, the air force chief has agreed to include an “offset” clause in the contract, requiring the seller to provide compensation through licensed production, subcontractor production, technology transfer, or foreign investment. This condition has garnered bipartisan support in Thailand’s parliament.

Thailand already operates 50 F-16s and a squadron of Gripens, purchased in 2008, making it the first Southeast Asian country to acquire the Swedish multirole fighters.

(Source: Nikkei Asia)

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