The Royal Thai Air Force yesterday appealed a decision by a sub-committee of the House of Representatives to exclude its plan to procure two F-35A fighter jets from the US at a cost of 7.4 billion baht from the government's 2023 fiscal budget.
The House sub-committee inspecting the air force's proposed purchase of the fighter jets, which is a part of the 2023 budget bill being vetted, had on Monday resolved to exclude the jet procurement plan for two main reasons, said Yuttapong Charasathien, a Pheu Thai Party MP for Maha Sarakham in his capacity as deputy chairman of the sub-committee.
The first was a lack of information as to whether the US Congress will actually sell the jets.
The second was that the purchase is not urgent for the time being as the country needs more resources to fund work to revive the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic, he said.
However, according to Mr Yuttapong, it will take up to 20 months for the air force to seal the planned jet procurement.
ACM Panpakdee Pattanakul, the air force chief of staff, said a petition had been submitted to the chairman of the sub-committee against the decision.
The appeal will next be forwarded to the main House committee examining the procurement plan, he said. Only about 700 million baht in the budget will be required in the 2023 fiscal year, while the rest will be carried over to later years until fiscal 2026, he said.
That is because the air force is conscious of the government's need to divert resources to fund efforts to revive the economy, he said. The air force, however, does need this initial sum to help convince the US to accelerate its decision on whether to make the sale, he said.
A quote is expected in January next year following an air force request last December, he said.