Yes, there are only news news and news.
The most news publish outside Thailand said RTAF already abadon the plan to buy the second batch.
But the case is that it’s a bit of misunderstanding. In fact, the second batch is just to complete the overall project of 12 jets.
Just 6 jets are worht only the aerobatic sqn., so the other 6 is definitely and Thai-language news only report the word ‘delay’ which it’s a worse thing to happen.
Come back to the topic, in fact RTAF show the sign that they want to push the early commitment in second batch early this year, but that’s before the defense budget cut come to an effect.
In general, armed force faces around 10% or 20,000 million Baht in budget cut which RTAF shares 3,400 million Baht. RTAF have an agreement to commit for the second batch in 2010. So if there are a delay it would shift to 2011 or 2012.
But whatever the case, another 6 is definitely. The real question is they still able to keep on the original schedule (2010) or just delay it.
In my opinion the delay is also likely, but the thing is RTAF uses their own annual budget to buy the Gripen. That’s mean if they can manage themselve they still can keep on the schedule, just to seek for an approval to commit from the cabinet.
So wait for the cabinet decision, if they give a green like, I don’t think it would be any delay.
Jet purchase plan shelved by air force
Commander grumbles about govt budget cuts
By: WASSANA NANUAM
Published: 9/05/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
Budget cuts have compelled the air force to shelve its planned purchase of six more Swedish-made Gripen fighters.
As the government decided on Wednesday to slash the defence budget for the next fiscal year from 171 billion to 151 billion baht, the air force had to ditch its plan to order six more Gripen fighter jets worth 15 billion baht, commander Itthaporn Subhawong said.
The air force has already bought six Gripen jets worth 19 billion baht with the planes due for delivery next year.
The air force needs the other six Gripen jets to complete a fleet of 12 that will replace its ageing F-5 fighters scheduled to be decommissioned in 2011.
With only six Gripen jets, the air force was not confident of protecting national security, according to the air force chief, who also warned that the decision would weaken national defence where competitive weaponry is vital.
“This affects the potential of the armed forces because they need modern weaponry. If we must defend the nation with weapons that cannot match [our enemies’] or are outdated, nobody will have respect for us,” ACM Itthaporn said.
He said that the six other Gripen jets were necessary for national defence.
“We must explain what is essential and need a review from the government. Weapons result in national security. Without strong defences, neighbours will not have respect for us.
“We, all soldiers, are ready to sacrifice our lives for the nation but in any fight we must have competitive weaponry. The life of every soldier is valuable. If a conflict erupts and we have weapons that do not compare, soldiers will be killed,” he said.
The Swedish fighters will be stationed at the air force base in Surat Thani to protect the Gulf of Thailand, the Andaman Sea and all areas in the southern region of the country.
The air force plans to use them as its main fighters instead of the F-16 jets used now.
The Defence Ministry was one of the agencies hit hardest by the budget cuts, implemented because government revenues have fallen short of target and the need to raise money to pay for economic stimulus schemes.
A ministry source said there was a question whether relations between the Democrat Party-led coalition and the armed forces would sour because the armed forces had supported the government but received budgetary reductions in return.
Defence is in need of Gripen fighters
By Panya Thiewsangwan
Published on May 30, 2009
“As and when the economy improves and the country is in a position to earmark the budget for security-related procurement, the fighter jets will be bought and deployed,” he said.
Prawit said he expected the Cabinet to approve the procurement plan in principle, pending the state of the economy, at its meeting next Tuesday
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday said his ministry would push for the Bt15.4-billion procurement of six Gripen fighter aircraft, although they would only be bought when the fiscal situation permitted such a costly purchase.
The procurement, if approved, will be spread over five years from the next fiscal year starting in October.
Prawit said the six Swedish jets, when added to the other Gripens already in deployment, would form a wing of 12 fighter aircraft, replacing the ageing F-5 jets that have been in service since 1966.
He said all military procurement plans had been put on hold in light of the economic downturn. However, the Air Force needs to have its budgetary plan approved in principle in order to make the necessary preparations for deployment of the aircraft.
The proposed Bt5-billion purchase of four search-and-rescue helicopters will be treated in the same way, the defence minister said.
The Air Force is eager that the public fully understands the ministry’s procurement plan, said deputy spokesman Group Captain Monthon Satchukorn.
If the government deems it necessary, Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Ithiporn Suphawong is willing to withdraw the plan in order to delay the Cabinet debate on the issue, Monthon said.
The plan has been forwarded to the Cabinet with an understanding that the budget would be approved in principle without actual disbursement of funds at this juncture, he added.
A bit of politic view.
New govt rift fears as jet plan revived
Prawit pushes Gripens, coalition tension likely
By: POST REPORTERS
Published: 30/05/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
An attempt by Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon to revive the air force’s procurement of Swedish-made Gripen jet fighters despite military budget cuts is likely to raise tensions between the Democrat Party and its key coalition partner, Bhumjaithai.
The move opens the way for a fresh conflict between the Democrats and its influential coalition partner following differences over the 4,000-bus lease project, the auction of the government’s mortgaged crops, and the public land rental scheme.
Gen Prawit, who has close affiliations with Bhumjaithai, said yesterday he would ask the cabinet next week to approve in principle the 5.4-billion-baht project to buy a second batch of Gripen fighters and 5 billion baht for search and rescue helicopters.
“I just want the cabinet to approve the procurement in principle. It is for the sake of reassurance.
“When the country has money to attend to security affairs, we will buy them. I do not think endorsing the project in principle will cause any damage,” said Gen Prawit, who stressed the air force needed the Gripens to replace its F-5Es which will be decommissioned later this year. He said he would explain the need to the Budget Bureau and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
“There is no hidden agenda,” said Gen Prawit, who is tipped to join the Bhumjaithai Party soon.
His push is seen as yet another move by Bhumjaithai to test the Democrats’ sincerity in honouring the coalition partnership. The Democrats have put the brakes on the Commerce Ministry’s planned sales of mortgaged crops and the Transport Ministry’s 67.9-billion-baht bus lease plan. Both ministries are under Bhumjaithai’s supervision.
Bhumjaithai heavyweights appear to be opposed to the Democrat Party’s proposal to allow farmers to rent public land at 10 baht per rai for farming.
The scheme, the brainchild of Deputy Interior Minister Thaworn Senneam who oversees the Land Department, apparently lacks support from Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul, the Bhumjaithai leader, and Saksayam Chidchob, his chief adviser and a core member of Bhumjaithai.
Deputy Interior Minister Boonjong Wongtrairat, another Bhumjaithai key figure, denied Mr Chavarat was opposed to the scheme. The minister was merely concerned that it could be exploited by the rich.
“Mr Chavarat wants the scheme to be examined thoroughly. He fears state property will be abused,” he said.
Mr Saksayam said the party was not using the land leasing plan to gain Democrat support for the mortgaged crop sale and bus rental projects.
“The land rental project has just been raised for discussion. An inspection is under way to separate state land from private property.”
Mr Chavarat said the land leasing scheme was a sound project and Mr Thaworn could submit it to him for further submission to the cabinet.
Democrat spokesman Buranat Samutarak dismissed any rift over the land leasing scheme, saying the Bhumjaithai Party had raised concerns but did not oppose the project.
Meanwhile, the air force said it was uncomfortable with the defence minister’s push to revive the Gripen purchase plan, as it feared the public might misunderstand. Air force spokesman Grp Capt Monthon Satchukorn said air force chief ACM Itthaporn Supawong would ask Gen Prawit to review the project and withdraw it from the cabinet meeting’s agenda.