The Bangkok Post news agency quoted a source from the Air Force as saying that the US Department of Defense has rejected Thailand’s request to purchase fifth-generation fighter jets F-35A (F-35A Lighting ll) manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
Instead of acquiring the F-35A, the United States provided Thailand with Lockheed Martin F-16 Viper (Block 70/72) or Boeing F-15EX fighter jets instead.
The reason for the refusal was that the country of the White Elephant was deemed not ready in terms of infrastructure facilities to accommodate stealth fighter aircraft.
US Ambassador Robert F. Gordik delivered a message from the Pentagon to Royal Thai Air Force Chief ACM Ongkorn Wanarot during a recent visit to the Royal Thai Air Force headquarters in Don Mueang.
During the meeting, it was reported that the US State Department believes that the Royal Thai Air Force may not be sufficiently prepared in terms of infrastructure facilities to accommodate the F-35A fighter jets.
These concerns arose with regard to air base security, airfield capacity, maintenance infrastructure, and availability of trained pilots and other essential personnel.
Ambassador Jordik added that to achieve the integrated readiness of the F-35 fighter jets, significant time and financial investments will be required.
However, it is reported that the United States is still reconsidering the order for the F-35A, after the Royal Thai Air Force has reached a level of readiness in the next five to ten years.
The United States itself will provide an official response to the Royal Thai Air Force’s request for F-35A fighter jets in July.
If the request is formally denied, the US will be required to return the 369.1 million baht or $10.5 million in money paid.