Thai PM urges armed forces to delay arms procurement plans for 2024 and instead use budget to support those most in need, prioritizing natural disaster relief efforts. Royal Thai Air Force confirms no jet fighters will be procured in 2024 but will consider for 2025 to replace ageing fleet of F-16 fighters. #Thailand #armedforces #budgetpriorities #naturaldisasterrelief #F16fighters
Focusing on Urgent Help for the People
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has requested the armed forces to postpone their arms procurement plans for the 2024 fiscal year. Instead, the government intends to use the budget to help those most in need. According to sources, Defence Minister Sutin Klunsang and the PM’s secretary-general, Prommin Lertsuridej, have been instructed to discuss this matter with the armed forces leaders.
This decision comes as the Prime Minister aims to allocate the budget towards urgent efforts to support the people. Budgets that have already been approved will remain unchanged.
Prioritizing Natural Disaster Relief
The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) commander, ACM Phanphakdee Phatthanakul, confirmed that the government asked the armed forces to prioritize efforts to handle natural disasters such as flooding, forest fires, and haze problems. ACM Phanphakdee also denied a report claiming that the RTAF planned to buy three Gripen jet fighters from Sweden to add to its fleet in Wing 7 in Surat Thani, after the United States refused to sell its F-35A fighter jets.
Air Force Procurement Plans
The air force has previously bought a fleet of 12 Gripen fighters but lost one in a crash. Each Gripen fighter aircraft costs approximately 2 billion baht. However, ACM Phanphakdee stated that the RTAF will not seek to procure jet fighters in the 2024 fiscal year due to the country’s economic situation.
He added that the RTAF would consider procuring new jet fighters in the 2025 fiscal year, with a working panel set up to evaluate this matter. ACM Phanphakdee also noted the RTAF’s need to purchase new jet fighters to replace its ageing fleet of F-16 fighters, which will be gradually decommissioned between 2028 and 2031.
Retrofitting Utility Aircraft for Disaster Relief
In addition to procurement plans, the RTAF aims to retrofit its BT-67 utility aircraft with a water tank, enabling it to combat forest fires and drought during the dry season. ACM Phanphakdee is prepared to explain the RTAF’s budget spending to the House committee scrutinizing the 2024 budget bill.
The Prime Minister has emphasized that if the armed forces were to buy any military equipment, they must persuade those countries to purchase Thai-made products as part of the deal.
Praise for Compliance with Government Policy
Akkaradet Wongpitakrote, a United Thai Nation (UTN) Party MP for Ratchaburi, commended ACM Phanphakdee for his willingness to comply with the government’s policy. He stated that the government wants to allocate its budget to address the people’s needs, as the country faces multiple problems, primarily economic hardships affecting daily life.
Akkaradet also mentioned that the 2024 fiscal year budget was prepared by the previous administration, so the new government had to manage it appropriately according to its policies. Nonetheless, the new government can prepare the budget for the 2025 fiscal year as it deems suitable.
He suggested that the RTAF’s decision should serve as an example for the army and the navy and that it would be best if they followed suit. Each year, the armed forces receive a considerable budget from the government, and the RTAF’s decision to reduce its spending or delay its procurement projects is commendable.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Thai PM’s request regarding arms procurement for the 2024 fiscal year?
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has urged the armed forces to delay their arms procurement plans for the 2024 fiscal year. The government intends to use the budget to help those most in need, with a focus on allocating resources toward natural disaster relief efforts.
2. What is the status of the Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF) fighter jet procurement plans?
The RTAF has confirmed that they will not procure any jet fighters in the 2024 fiscal year due to the country’s economic situation. However, they plan to consider procuring new jet fighters in the 2025 fiscal year, with the goal of replacing their ageing fleet of F-16 fighters between 2028 and 2031.
3. How does the Thai Prime Minister want the armed forces to approach military equipment purchases?
The Prime Minister has emphasized that if the armed forces were to buy any military equipment, they must persuade those countries to purchase Thai-made products as part of the deal. This approach aims to support the local economy and create a mutually beneficial relationship between Thailand and its military suppliers.