The Royal Thai Air Force will delay the procurement of fighter jets and re-evaluate the purchase for the next fiscal year, 2025.
On October 4th, 2023, Air Chief Marshall Panpakdee Pattanakul, Commander of the Royal Thai Air Force, mentioned to the Thai media that for the 2024 fiscal year in regards to the Air Force budget that he would comply with requests from the new Thai government to delay arms deals.
A project regarding the procurement of fighter jets will therefore be delayed and proposed in the next fiscal year, 2025.
The overall Air Force budget will instead be utilized on army maintenance, national security-related matters, and for the Thai people, although the latter point was vague. However, Air Chief Marshall Panpakdee revealed a plan to modify a current BT67 plane with a water tank used for forest fire extinguishing and fire smoke purifying.
Air Chf Mshl Panpakdee however believes the fighter jet procurement plan must still take place eventually because of national security concerns. The process of disbanding aging F-16 fighting jets stationed in Nakhon Ratchasima in 2028 would take more than 5 years, he added. Furthermore, the course to procure new fighter jets takes more than 10 years as learned from a previous project on the procurement and training of pilots of a squadron of Gripen aircraft.
“As for the current state of the Royal Thai Air Force, a project on improving 11 Gripen fighting jets is now complete and sufficient for air operations,” stated Air Chf Mshl Panpakdee.
In the 2025 fiscal year of the Air Force budget, Air Chf Mshl Panpakdee will seek to utilize the most beneficial ways to meet both national security needs and financial budgets. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has advised the Air Force on mutual benefits in trading with international arms deals that would satisfy all sides.