Air force: New jets a 'necessity'

Air force: New jets a 'necessity'

The Royal Thai Air Force has insisted on the necessity of purchasing new fighter jets to replace existing aircraft scheduled for decommissioning.

AVM Prapas Sornchaidee, spokesman for the Royal Thai Air Force, on Wednesday said it is the duty of the force and its commanders to ensure full preparedness for the sake of national security.

The air force is also required to follow the Defence Ministry's operation plan on national security and defence, which says the air force must maintain sufficient ability in line with potential threats, AVM Prapas said.

"Acquiring new technology is part of the air force's bid to heighten capacity," he said.

The decommissioning of fighter jets began last year and is scheduled to finish in 2031. By 2032, the air force will have less than half the number of jets it once had, which will not be sufficient to maintain air defence operations.

The air force plans to procure fifth-generation fighters, described as having five core features -- stealth along with super cruise, sensor fusion and super manoeuvrability in addition to synergistic integrated avionics, he said.

Apart from strengthening the nation's air defence capacity, these modern fighter jets are also needed for the air force's security cooperation with other countries in the region, he said.

Meanwhile, an air-force panel is still investigating the crash of an F-16 A-ADF fighter jet, which went down on Tuesday in Chaiyaphum's Chatturat district, he said.

The jet's flight data recorder has been retrieved but is badly damaged, he said.

The air force will have to seek help from the US with data extraction as the probe continues.

The panel is expected to wrap up its investigation in one week.

AVM Prapas said the pilot who survived the crash remains in hospital for treatment.

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