UPON postponing the sale of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters to Thailand earlier this week US offered the faster 4.5-generation F-16 warplanes in its place, Matichon newspaper said today (May 25).
AVM Praphas Sornchaidee, Thai air force spokesman, said US Ambassador Robert F. Godec stated in his talks with Air Force Chief ACM Alongkorn Wannarot that Thailand remains a very close partner of the US in the Indo-Pacific region.
Five points were mentioned on postponing the sale of F-35A fifth-generation, stealth fighters as requested in a Price and Availability letter submitted Joint United States Military Advisory Group Thailand (JUSMAGTHAI) as follows:
1) The consideration of the sale of the F-35A, a fifth-generation strike fighter, is subject to a number of time constraints that must be overcome before the US considers selling this combat aircraft to any country, thus the US is unable to offer it to the Thai air force at this time.
2) Based on current F-35A production plans and orders, it will take at least 10 years before the F-35A can be delivered to new buyers.
3) The F-35A is designed with new technical and operational concepts and special features of stealth, therefore investments in infrastructure, training and security systems must be planned according to US requirements.
4) Preparation for modifying the maintenance transmission and warehouse systems as well as a new management system for the F-35A, which differs from that of the F-16, is required with this warplane being incompatible with other munitions.
5) The United States wishes to discuss future arrangements to support the procurement and deployment of F-35A attack fighter jets by the Thai air force. In this transitional period, the US believes the Thai air force should consider 4.5-generation F-16 and F-15 fighter jets, which will be faster to procure and can be deployed to meet the needs of the Thai air force, with the US to send a team for detailed discussions.
“Even though the United States has said the F-35A will not be available for sale to the air force at this time, the air force has confirmed the need to acquire aircraft to replace the F-16 fighter jets that are being decommissioned so combat readiness and air defence capability are not affected,” AVM Praphas said.
The air force will proceed with its risk management plan and carefully review the attack fighter procurement plan. taking into account cost-effective use of the national budget for maximum benefit, he added.
Top: A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies in the US Central Command area of responsibility Nov. 30, 2020. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multirole fighter aircraft that delivers war-winning airpower. Photo: US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Carnes and published by Alert5.com
Insert: Lockheed Martin F-16. Photo: US Air Force/Staff St. Joshua Dewberry and published by Aviationweek.com’
Front Page: US F-16s take off from Osan Air Base, South Korea, December 2017. Photo: Kim Hong-Ji/Getty Images published Popularmechanics.com