Thailand prepares procurement of new fighter aircraft

by Jon Grevatt

The Royal Thai Air Force is planning to procure new fighter aircraft from 2023. Platforms likely to be considered include Lockheed Martin's F-35. (US Air Force)

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has received approval from the government to proceed with its plan to procure new fighter aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16A/B Fighting Falcons.

RTAF spokesperson Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Prapas Sonjaidee told Janes on 12 January that the Thai cabinet has sanctioned the procurement of an initial four aircraft for THB13.8 billion (USD415 million).

The funds will be sourced from Thailand's defence budget over the next four years, he said.

AVM Prapas said the RTAF wants to acquire the most modern and capable fighter aircraft that meets the service's budget and operational requirements. To this end, the service has established two committees that will identify requirements and evaluate platforms including the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

“We will select the most appropriate aircraft,” said AVM Prapas. “This might be the F-35 or maybe another platform. However, we want to procure a next-generation fighter aircraft and our procurement committees will assess suitable platforms.”


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Spain flies Eurofighter with Meteor

by Gareth Jennings

A Spanish Eurofighter combat aircraft carrying a pair of Meteor missiles on its underfuselage weapon stations. (Spanish Air Force)

The Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire Espanol: EdAE) has begun flight operations of the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft armed with the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), the service announced on 15 January.

According to the service's official Twitter account, a Eurofighter (designated C.16 in national service) flew operationally for the first time with the Meteor missile on 14 January.

“Yesterday, a Eurofighter of the Ala 14 [No. 14 Wing] of the EdAE carried out, for the first time, its mission equipped with a Meteor missile,” the post said, adding that the milestone followed installation of the Phase 2 Enhancements B (P2Eb) software enhancement performed on the aircraft of Ala 14.


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North Korea launches two more ‘tactical missiles'

by Jon Grevatt & Rahul Udoshi

The Japanese Ministry of Defense said the North Korean missiles launched on 17 January from Pyongyang fell near the east coast of North Korea, outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone. (Japanese MoD – https://www.mod.go.jp/j/press/news/2022/01/17b.html)

North Korea launched two more missiles on 17 January, the latest in a series of similar drills since the beginning of 2022. Janes assesses that the new launches featured a version of the KN-24 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the two “tactical guided missiles” were fired from the “western region of our country [and] hit an island target in the East Sea of Korea with precision”. The East Sea of Korea is also known as the Sea of Japan or East Sea.

KCNA added, “The inspection [and] firing test was conducted for the purpose of selectively inspecting the tactical guided missiles being produced and verifying the accuracy of the weapon system.

“The Academy of Defence Science has confirmed the accuracy, safety, and operational effectiveness of this weapon system being produced.”


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Philippines to order more Black Hawk helos

by Gareth Jennings

The Philippines is to acquire a further 32 Black Hawk helicopters to add to the 16 received. (Lockheed Martin)

The Philippines is to order 32 additional Lockheed Martin S-70i Black Hawk utility helicopters to add to the 16 already acquired (of which one was recently lost in an accident).

Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana said on 16 January that the country's recent disaster relief experiences have underscored the need to replace the armed forces' ageing Bell UH-1 ‘Huey' helicopters with more Black Hawks.

“The lack of transport planes and helicopters have never been more acute during the [Covid-19] pandemic and in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette. This was exacerbated by our ageing Hueys that have become uneconomical to maintain. The brand new Black Hawks bore the brunt of the work during these critical times,” Lorenzana said. “Upon the instruction of the president, we are procuring additional 32 brand new S-70i Black Hawk helicopters,” he added.


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https://www.janes.com/defence-news/defence/latest/thailand-prepares-procurement-of-new-fighter-aircraft

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has received approval from the government to proceed with its plan t...

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