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US refuses to sell F-35 fighter jets to Thai air force

PHOTO: Flickr/Richard Schneider

The US says it won’t sell any F-35 fighter jets to Thailand as the Royal Thai Air Force lacks the necessary facilities and security measures to handle the planes. According to a Nation Thailand report, Washington has stated that the fighter jets are “too sophisticated’ for Thailand right now.

News of the rebuff comes from an unnamed source in the RTAF, who says that the US Ambassador to Thailand, Robert F Godec, met with the chief of the RTAF, Alongkorn Wannarot, to inform him that the US would not be selling the fighter jets to the Thai air force.

According to the RTAF source, the US Ambassador explained that the decision was based on the RTAF not having the right facilities and security measures to accommodate the jets at this time.

“When Thailand is ready, the US will be willing to hold another talk on the procurement of F-35 fighter jets.”

The source says there were no hard feelings from the rejection, but the RTAF has to return 369 million baht from the 2023 budget that had been earmarked for the purchase. This would have been the first payment installment, had the US agreed to the sale.

The RTAF source has also questioned the official reason given, speculating that the real reason could be concerns among the US administration that Thailand has a tendency to align too closely with Beijing.

According to the Nation Thailand report, Alongkorn admitted last year that the US was unlikely to agree to the sale, stating that there was only a 50% chance of the deal going through.

Thailand’s air force has been trying to buy two F-35 fighter jets, at a cost of 7.38 billion baht, for some time, in order to replace its ageing F-16 jets.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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