Modernizing the Royal Thai Air Force

The kingdom’s 2013 defense budget rose to US$5.7 billion, a 7% increase from the year before. Increased spending in recent years has allowed an already capable military to modernize and add new weapon systems to its inventory. The website Global Firepower actually ranks Thailand as the 20th most powerful military in the world.

Swedish company SAAB has made giant inroads into the Thai market in terms of both aircraft and shipborne systems. On September 4th, 2013 SAAB delivered the final four Gripen JAS39C/D fighters to the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF). Two tranches of aircraft have given the air force a total of 12 Gripens, two Saab 100B Argus Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft fitted with Erieye radar, and two Saab 340 aircraft. Thailand’s new fighters will also gain RBS-15F anti-ship missiles as part of their armament.

Saab is reportedly interested in basing its planned Saab Gripen Fighter Weapon School in Thailand, this after South Africa failed to support the initiative. Saab opened an office in Bangkok in August to help expand its footprint throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The office will serve as a regional hub to integrate work already undertaken by offices in Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

This is only an extract from the original article, first published by Gordon Arthur in Asian Defense & Diplomacy special edition for Defense & Security 2013 is part of a three-part series reviewing recent acquisition programs in Thailand. Read the rest of full article and find the others from the series by following this link.

Source: Defence


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