BANGKOK – The Royal Thai Air Force aims to become a leading force in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) by 2019, thanks to the procurement of the Gripen fighters, Thai News Agency (TNA)
Thai Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimapragorn said this today, when he congratulated the Royal Thai Air Force on its air defence integration.
General Thanasak believes that the Royal Thai Air Force can be a leading air force in Asean by 2019 as planned.
General Thanasak told journalists that other countries have praised the Thai Air Force’s procurement of Gripen fighters, and that it will integrate its information system with the Royal Thai Army and the Royal Thai Navy in the future.
According to the Thai armed forces chief, the procurement of the Gripen fighters is aimed at national defence against future threats and not warfare.
He said that the fighters will become part of Asean’s peace-keeping forces when the Asean Community (AC) is formed by 2015.
The Royal Thai Air Force acquired the Gripen fighters from Saab, an established Swedish aerospace company, to replace the US-developed F-5 fighters which were decommissioned in 2007.
The procurement will be two stages. The first consisted of six Gripen fighters, a Saab 340 AEW airborne early warning and control aircraft and a Saab 340 B1 transport aircraft, which were gradually deployed in 2010 and 2011, while the second phase comprises six Gripen fighters and a Saab 340 AEW airborne early warning and control aircraft which are to be gradually deployed this year.
Submitted by TNA