The Royal Thai Air Force receives last batch of Gripen jets

Despite one of the Gripen jets being hit by lightning in India on the way from Sweden to Thailand, the three planes safely landed in Thailand on September 4.

As the three planes are the last batch of 12 Gripen jets that The Royal Thai Air Force ordered from Saab in 2008, the Gripen Integrated Air Defence System commissioning ceremony was held on September 11.

The event took place at Wing 7 in Surathani province in presence of Air Force Chief Prajin Juntong, Air Chief Marshal Ittiporn Supawong, Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew, Admiral Narong Pipatanasai, General Sirichai Distakul, Swedish Ambassador Mr. Klas Molin and other notables in the Royal Thai Air Force.

At the event, Chief of Defence Forces General Thanasak Patimaprakorn of the Royal Thai Army and Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong also flew with Gripen 39D jet.

Air Force Chief Prajin Juntong said that The Royal Thai Air Force was considering buying six additional Gripen fighter jets from Sweden at a cost of 18 million baht, Bangkok Post reported.  However, any future purchase of the jets would have to wait for the government’s approval.

The Gripen Integrated Air Defence System, comprising 12 Gripen fighter jets along with two Saab 340 AEW early warning aircraft and a Saab 340 transport plane, will be included in the armed forces’ national defence programme on 1 April 2014.

Air Force Chief Prajin added that Sweden’s Saab group, which manufactures the aircraft, had installed a new computerised flight control system in the jet that was struck by lightning after it was found to have a glitch in one of its electronic components.

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