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Thailand’s Military Installed Cabinet Approves $258-Million Purchase of South Korean Fighter Jets

The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a Bt8.8-billion purchase of eight T-50TH Golden Eagle fighter training aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries. 

BANGKOK – Thailand’s military installed cabinet has approved the $258-million purchase of eight T-50 advanced jets from South Korea. The latest defense acquisition by a military government that took power following a 2014 coup.

The military government has increased the defense budget every year since, although most recent defense purchases have been Chinese, including a controversial deal for three submarines that provoked questions over its transparency.

Thailand’s defense ministry has stressed that it was not buying exclusively from China and is still making purchases from other countries, including the United States, an old ally.

The cabinet approved the purchase of eight further jets in the second phase of a 2015 deal in which Thailand bought four jets from South Korea, Prayuth told reporters in Bangkok.

“We got the South Korean ones,” Prayuth added. “You can see that we are not tied to one particular country.”

On Monday, the army said the deal was worth 8.8 billion baht ($258 million).

Last month, Thailand’s army chief said the United States planned to sell four Black Hawk helicopters to Thailand after initially suspending their sale following the 2014 coup.

The United States has sold Thailand military equipment worth more than $960 million, including Black Hawk helicopters, air-to-air missile systems and multiple naval missile and torpedo systems, over the past decade.

In May the Thai Navy signed an agreement for the $US393 million ($530 million) Yuan-class diesel submarines and in April Thai government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd, reported the cabinet had approved the acquisition of 10 more VT4 main battle tanks designed and built by China’s Norinco at a cost of 58 million US.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the jets would replace 20-year-old planes that were due to be decommissioned.

 

By Aukkarapon Niyomyat – Reuters

(Additional reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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