US rejects country’s bid to buy F35 jets

THE kingdom said the US has rejected a bid by its air force to immediately purchase F-35A stealth fighter jets, citing a long waiting period and requirement of heavy investment in infrastructure and training.

Based on the current order backlog and production plans for F-35 jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp, it would take at least 10 years to deliver them to a new buyer, Royal Thai Air Force Spokesman Prapas Sornchaidee said in a statement on Thursday.

A new buyer will also need to invest in infrastructure, training and security systems to comply with US norms, he said.

The US decision was conveyed to Thai Air Force by the country’s ambassador Robert F. Godec, Prapas said.

Thailand’s Air Force had sought to procure F-35A aircraft to modernise its aging fighter jet fleet and had initially set aside about 369 million baht (RM49mil) in this year’s budget. The nation planned to initially buy two jets while planning to purchase a total of 12 stealth aircraft by 2032.

The US has instead asked Thailand to consider buying F-15 and F-16 fighter jets to meet the Air Force’s requirement, Prapas said. — Bloomberg

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