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THURSDAY, February 02, 2023
Thai Air Force chief sees even chance of US agreeing to sell F-35 jets

Thai Air Force chief sees even chance of US agreeing to sell F-35 jets

FRIDAY, October 07, 2022

There is a 50 per cent chance that the US will sell F-35 aircraft to Thailand, the chief of the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) said.

Air Chief Marshal Alongkorn Wannarot revealed on Friday that the committee looking into the procurement had informed the US government that Thailand wants to buy two F-35 aircraft with a budget of 7.383 billion baht.

He said that the committee is coordinating with the US government and is waiting for the answer in the purchase and assumption (P&A) process.

If the US government agrees to sell, Thailand will follow the Letter of Request for the Letter of Acceptance (LOR for LOA) process to draft a contract. However, Alongkorn said that the Cabinet might need to consider this before the LOA process.

He said, “[But] I hope [the US] agree to sell because this is what we want the most. After the LOA process was done, it is up to the US Congress. If the P&A says yes, then it is 90 per cent done .”

Alongkorn said that he had confidence in the aircraft, unlike the Navy’s submarine procurement from China, because the aircraft was manufactured by the Lockheed Martin.

Thai Air Force chief sees even chance of US agreeing to sell F-35 jets

He said that if Thailand is slow, the country might have to wait in line so Thailand must sign the LOR for LOA as soon as possible after receiving the P&A.

Alongkorn said that the RTAF’s weapons could connect with F-35 aircraft immediately.

He said that he would reconsider if he needed a substitution plan or postpone the aircraft decommissioning.

Thai Air Force chief sees even chance of US agreeing to sell F-35 jets

He refused to comment when asked if he had considered any other aircraft apart from the F-35, as he needs to appoint a committee to consider the plan with the 2024 budget, because the current budget was limited due to the pandemic and was reduced from 41 billion baht to 36 billion baht.

Alongkorn said that it would be a great help if the government helps in the negotiation of this deal. He said that it would be up to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to raise the matter if he has a chance to meet with US President Joe Biden.

He said that the RTAF has a 50 per cent chance of the deal going through because the US will consider several factors, including the relationship with several countries and international politics.

As for the military exercise with China, he explained that it is a strategy to create a balanced relationship, not a neutral strategy. It is up to Washington to decide as he had done his best to provide information to the US government.

When a reporter asked if the US government had set a condition on Thailand not importing defence equipment from rival countries, Alongkorn said the US could not set such a condition because Thailand already has a standpoint.