The US has said it is delaying the sale of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters to Thailand with delivery of the first two earlier expected in 2034, an air force source told Naewna newspaper today (May 23).
According to the source, US Ambassador Robert F. Godec met Air Force Chief ACM Alongkorn Wannarot last week to give details about the requested purchase of F-35A fifth-generation, stealth fighters.
The source quoted the ambassador as saying that these fighters cannot yet be sold to Thailand with the US wanting the Thai air force to be ready for them in terms of the base where they are to be located and security as Washington strongly focuses on these issues, with information security being a priority.
It is believed that US is still concerned about Thailand’s relationship with China only that the ambassador did not mention this point while stating that US wanted Thailand to be ready for these fighters first and once it is prepared talks could then be held, the source added.
The Thai air force has not suffered any damage, only having to return a budget of 369 million baht as agreed to an extraordinary committee that approved the fiscal 2023 national budget.
Top: Two F-35s bank after receiving fuel over the Midwest on Sept. 19, 2019. Photo: Master Sgt. Ben Mota/US Air Force and published by Defensenews.com
Front Page: F-35 fighter jets perform in an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots at the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev desert near the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on December 22, 2021. Photo: AFP via Getty Images / Menahem Kahana and published by Defenseone.com