Declining Thai’s F-35 bid, US offers F-16 and F-15 jets
According to Thailand-based publication thethaiger.com, the United States Department of Defence offered F-16 Block 70 and F-15 E Strike Eagle fighter jets as alternatives.
US’ decision was not a secret. The US ambassador to Thailand, Robert F Gordec, announced the Pentagon’s decision during a meeting with the air force commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF). Pentagon considers that RTAF may not yet have the required infrastructure facilities for the F-35s, including airbase security, pilots, airfields, maintenance, and other personnel. According to Bangkok Post, the US did not completely turn down Thailand’s request and would reconsider it within the next five to ten years when the RTAF is ready.
According to thethaiger.com, the US has also offered to sell F-16 Block 70 and F-15 E Strike Eagle fighters to Thailand. According to the source, the RTAF is considering purchasing another fleet of Gripen fighter jets from Sweden’s Saab AB. The air force had previously purchased a fleet of fighters based at Wing 7 in Surat Thani, but one was lost in a mishap. The Cabinet authorised the RTAF’s intention to purchase four US fighter jets beginning in the next fiscal year in October, with a budget of 13.8 billion baht (US$434 million) on January 11.