By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THE HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE today (August 3) approved the air force’s planned purchase of a couple of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters beginning with a down payment in the upcoming fiscal 2023.
The House budget committee members voted 45:22 to endorse the planned purchase of the first batch of two F-35A jets in fiscal 2023 for a combined cost of 7.38 billion baht, the down payment for which will amount to 3.69 billion baht.
That is part of a squadron of 12 Lightning II jets which the air force has planned to procure from fiscal 2023 until fiscal 2032 with intent to get on par with Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker fighters currently deployed by Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia and reportedly ordered by Myanmar.
Air marshals have earlier remarked that those Russian-built jets could possibly pose a threat to national and regional security, thus prompting the Thai air force to procure the US-built jets which reportedly have state-of-the-art air superiority systems and could be actively operable for up to four decades.
A second batch of four F-35As would follow during fiscal 2026 and 2028 for a combined cost of 14.62 billion baht and a third batch of six F-35As would follow during fiscal 2029 and 2032 for a combined cost of 21.92 billion baht.
The 12 sought-after F-35As are primarily meant to replace a number of ageing fighter jets many of which have been deployed for nearly four decades and all of which are scheduled to be decommissioned over the next decade.
Those include General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon jets deployed at Wing 1 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Northrop F-5TH Super Tigris jets at Wing 21 in Ubon Ratchathani and Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet light attack jets at Wing 23 in Udon Thani.
Top: Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters. Photo: Military.com
Front Page: The F-35 Lightning II boasts ‘unprecedented’ technology and can reach speeds of 1,200mph. Photo: Getty Images and published by Inews.co.uk