RTAF's purchase of F-35s up to US government, says manufacturer

RTAF's purchase of F-35s up to US government, says manufacturer

The Royal Thai Air Force is looking to buy about eight F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets from Lockheed Martin in fiscal year 2023.
The Royal Thai Air Force is looking to buy about eight F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets from Lockheed Martin in fiscal year 2023.

SINGAPORE: Thailand has expressed genuine interest in buying F-35 stealth fighters, but clearance to buy the jets is a matter for the US government, a senior executive of defence giant Lockheed Martin said on Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow, Tim Cahill, Lockheed Martin's senior vice president for Global Business, confirmed Thailand had expressed interest, but said there was "nothing official that I am aware of that has come relative to that".

In January, the Royal Thai Air Force set aside about US$413 million for procuring four of the jets.

RTAF chief ACM Napadej Dhupatemiya has said Thailand would be interested in buying as many as eight F-35s.

"This will be a US government policy decision," Cahill said. "I think there is some promise there, but I honestly don't know where the US government will come down on that."

The F-35, one of the world's most advanced fighter aircraft, is considered a highly sensitive export, sold only to the United States' closest allies. In the Indo-Pacific region, only Australia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore fly the jet.

The US State Department's Bureau of Political Military Affairs' Office of Congressional and Public Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside business hours. 

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