By Thai Newsroom Reporters
AIR FORCE CHIEF ACM Panpakdee Pattanakul today (Oct.4) confirmed a squadron of US-made jet fighters at a major air base in Nakhon Ratchasima will be decommissioned in the next five years.
ACM Panpakdee said a new squadron of jet fighters are yet to be procured in place of the ageing General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon jets which are currently deployed at Wing 1 air base and scheduled to be decommissioned from 2028.
A procurement plan for a new squadron of jet fighters to replace the F-16s might probably be submitted for approval by the government as soon as in fiscal 2025, the air force chief said.
However, ACM Panpakdee stopped short of saying what type of jet fighters may be picked by the air force to replace the F-16s, deployed since 1988.
The newly-named air force chief apparently made his comment in response to yesterday’s directive given by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin for all armed services to put their respective procurement plans for any weapon systems on hold for fiscal 2024, beginning on Oct.1.
Nevertheless, another squadron of F-16s based at Wing 4 in Takhli district of Nakhon Sawan might probably be deployed beyond 2028 whilst a squadron of Saab JAS39 Gripen jet fighters based at Wing 7 in Surat Thani have already been upgraded for high-tech air superiority and tactical manoeuvrability, according to the air force chief.
Meanwhile, ACM Panpakdee declined to comment on any progress toward the earlier-planned procurement for Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters.
Air marshals have earlier advised that Thailand be armed with a squadron of state-of-the-art, multirole F-35s in response to future airborne challenges whereas Russian-built Sukhoi Su-27 and Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker jets are currently deployed by Vietnam and Malaysia.
Top: A Thai air force F-16 Fighting Falcon jet flying high. Photo: Thai Rath
Front Page: 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
Also read: PM puts weapon systems procurement on hold