Thailand Buys Six More Gripen Jet Fighters from Sweden

The Royal Thai Government on Tuesday approved the procurement of six Gripens for 15,4 billion baht as proposed by the Ministry of Defense after the purchase of the first six aircrafts was earlier approved. Other related equipment and technologies as well as 18 scholarships for military personnel for postgraduate degrees were also endorsed in line with the 2011 plan to renovate aircrafts of the air force.
Gp Capt Monthon said prior to the approval that the RTAF wanted the cabinet to approve the two projects in principle first so it had enough time to prepare its 2011 fiscal budget, which will be considered in May.
The two projects have been on hold since they were withdrawn from a cabinet meeting in May last year.
Gp Capt Monthon had warned that: “If we cannot buy the Gripen fighters under the 2011 fiscal budget, this will affect the air force’s operations planning.”
A military source said air force commander Itthaporn Subhawong met Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban on Friday to discuss the two projects. The source said Mr Suthep reassured ACM Itthaporn the cabinet would approve the projects in principle with the budget arranged and disbursed later.
The air force had hoped to decommission its 12 US-made F-5 E/F fighters, in operation at the Surat Thani-based Wing 7 for 30 years, once it took commission of 12 new Gripen 39 C/D fighter jets.

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