Royal Thai Air Force Spokesperson Air Vice-Marshal Prapas Sornchaidee has announced that a committee reviewing Thailand’s fighter aircraft acquisition plan has concluded that the Kingdom should purchase 5th-generation fighter jets, as they are best suited for current strategic demands.
Air Vice-Marshal Prapas said a panel chaired by Deputy Air Chief Marshal Thanasak Metanan assessed the air force’s policies, missions and operational plans and decided that 5th-gen fighter jets possess the critical functions necessary to safeguard national security interests.
The jets under review included the US-made F35, China’s J-20 and Russia’s SU-57.
According to Air Vice-Marshal Prapas, necessary functions include network-centric operations, counter-air strikes, surveillance and reconnaissance, long-range operations, and effective control of air operations. He added that this generation of fighter jets will also feature crucial capabilities such as stealth, supercruise, sensor fusion and high maneuverability.
The panel, which was set up on January 10, also considered the aircraft’s systems’ reliability, the air force’s budget, delivery schedule and technology transfer offers.
A committee report is expected to be presented to Air Force Commander Air Chief-Marshal Napadej Dhupatemiya next month for further consideration. Thailand currently operates 12 JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets and dozens of F-16 and F-5 fighter jets from the United States.
The Air Force have previously communicated their interest in buying fighter jets from America.
No one knows whether the US government will approve the sale of the model decided upon by the committee.
Nevertheless, the move would be in line with the air force’s policy to strengthen itself in the face of what it perceives to be worsening regional conflicts.
The completion of this deal is expected to take between seven and 10 years from purchase to final payment.
Currently, the air force has two squadrons of 35-year-old F-16s, which are either stationed at Wing 1 in Nakhon Ratchasima or Wing 4 in Nakhon Sawan.