The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) is expecting to get a clearer picture from the United States about its plan to purchase two F-35 stealth fighter jets in the middle of this year, RTAF Commander-in-Chief Air Chief Marshal Alongkorn Vannarot said on Sunday.
He said that the procurement of the two hi-tech aircraft is in the process of “coordination” between the two sides, which includes related issues such as inspection, by the US, of the airbase where the planes are to be stationed if the purchase is approved by the US congress.
ACM Alongkorn explained that the RTAF has to revise its White Paper on long-term arms procurement every 3-5 years,because of a discrepancy between the budget sought each year by the RTAF and the actual budget received from the government.
Budgetary constraints, he said, mean that the RTAF needs to repair its existing weaponry and aircraft to keep them operational, because it could not afford to buy new equipment.
In addition to the two F-35 fighter jets, he said the RTAF plans to procure a new defense radar system, to replace the existing system which has been in use for more over ten years.