Bangkokpost.com provide the informative news on the press conference of ACM Chalit, Commander-In-Chief of RTAF, on the day after the contact signing ceremony
I add some interesting information also.
AIR FORCE / PURCHASE OF SWEDISH FIGHTER AIRCRAFT
Chalit hopes Samak govt won’t review Gripen jets deal
Air force chief ACM Chalit Phukphasuk points at a model of the Swedish
Gripen jet fighter during a press conference at air force headquarters at Don Muang. The air force chief returned yesterday from Sweden, where he signed a deal to buy six Gripen JAS-39 C/D multi-purpose aircraft.
Air force chief ACM Chalit Phukphasuk hopes the Samak government will rise above politics and approve the second half of the Gripen jet fighter package with Sweden.
He also fervently hopes Prime Minister and Defence Minister Samak Sundaravej will not reconsider the 19-billion-baht order he signed this week for six of the multi-purpose jets.
ACM Chalit, who was a key member of the military junta that toppled the Thaksin government in 2006, was speaking yesterday on his arrival back from Sweden, where he signed a memorandum of understanding to buy six Gripen JAS-39 C/D aircraft.
The air force commander said Mr Samak and the new government should not review the deal.
”If politics changes the project, then our politics and our nation will be regarded as unreliable by the world community,” he said.
”But I believe in the prime minister and defence minister because he is a senior figure in society and has been in politics for a long time.”
ACM Chalit said he had earlier explained the deal to Mr Samak. The prime minister had not baulked at the price and he believed Mr Samak had a good understanding of the deal.
The purchase of the first six Gripen aircraft was approved by the Surayud Chulanont cabinet on Jan 24, just before it completed its tenure.
The air force earlier submitted a 34-billion-baht proposal to buy 12 of the planes to replace its old Vietnam-era Northrop F5E fighters.
The cabinet agreed the air force should buy six jets first, using a five-year tied-over budget starting this year.
ACM Chalit said he was not certain the other six planes would be bought.
”The procurement of the other six will depend on my junior officers at the air force, and the new government as I am retiring this September,” he said. Sweden is to deliver the first three planes in January 2011 and the other three in March that year.
The air force chief said the Gripen order marks a new era of military aircraft purchases. Thailand used to depend mostly on American products.
The air force earlier planned to upgrade its F16 C/D jets, but the US shelved assistance for upgrading the planes after the coup on Sept 19, 2006.
Under the Swedish deal, Gripen agreed to supply all accessories, including radar systems and air-to-ship, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles that are comparable to the advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles of the US, ACM Chalit added.
There are some issues here.
– “The air force earlier planned to upgrade its F16 C/D jets, but the US shelved assistance for upgrading the planes after the coup on Sept 19, 2006.” ….. it’s actually restart now. According to this news. Also Thai Gripen will be equipped with US weapon.
ACM Ittipol Supawong, Chief of Staff of Royal Thai Air Force welcomed Major General jeffrey A. Remington, Director of Air, Space and Information Operations, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii on 4 Feb 2008 to discuss about the Exercise Cope Tiger 08 and MLU program on F-16. They were also discussed about the procurement of weapon that would equipped with F-5, F-16, and Gripen.
– ”The procurement of the other six will depend on my junior officers at the air force, and the new government as I am retiring this September,” ….. so it’s mean that the second batch will be approved in late 2008 at the most early date. But I expect the approval in mid-2009 to meet the Thai Gripen production line so they can establish a 12-jets sqn. in the same time.
– There are still no news about the review of the program now.