In Bangkok, Thailand yesterday the Thai government announced the down-selection of the Saab Gripen new generation fighter, and the Saab Erieye Airborne Early Warning (AEW) system to meet its national defence needs.
10/17/2007 | The Thai Cabinet has approved a budget of 34,400 billion baht (US$ 1.1 billion) for the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) to procure 12 Gripen multi-role fighters, to replace its ageing fleet of F-5 B/E aircraft, and two Saab Erieye AEW aircraft, together with associated equipment and services. Negotiations between Thai and Swedish government officials will now commence in order to conclude a formal agreement.
A two phase procurement process
The procurement process is divided into two phases; Phase one covers the procurement of six Gripen fighters, including spare parts and training, and one Saab Erieye AEW system aircraft in the sum of 19,000 billions baht (US$ 600 million), within a five year budgetary commitment from 2008 to 2012. In Phase two, the RTAF intend to procure an additional six Gripen fighters together with associated equipment, spare parts and training, and a second Saab Erieye AEW system aircraft in the sum of 15,400 billions baht (US$ 500 million) within a five year budgetary commitment from 2013 to 2017.
Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs welcomes the decision
Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt says in a comment on Thailand and Gripen. "I welcome the decision from the Royal Thai government to start negotiations with the Swedish government, to purchase Gripen fighter aircraft and the Saab Erieye Airborne Early Warning (AEW) system. This decision once again confirms that Gripen is a world class and cost effective system. The selection of Gripen was made in fierce competition with advanced US and Russian systems".
"We must now wait for the result of the formal negotiations that will now commence between the Swedish and Thai authorities. When a formal agreement is in place, this will be managed in accordance with the appropriate export legislation, rules and regulations", he stated.
Replacement has been evaluated since 2003
Since 2003, the RTAF has been evaluating a suitable replacement for its ageing fleet of F-5 B/E fighters to undertake the air defence and protect the national interests of the Kingdom of Thailand. In its evaluations, the RTAF considered the requirements of suitable new generation aircraft to replace its F-5 B/E aircraft, including the need for true multi-role/swing-role capability, new generation flight control systems, communications systems, avionics systems and a weapons system. The new aircraft needed to be capable of joint operations and tactical data linking with allied ground, maritime and air forces, within an effective command and control system. In addition, the costs of operation, maintenance and through-life costs needed to be the lowest of aircraft of the same type.
Following its evaluation process, and in consideration of these critical performance issues, the RTAF has selected the Gripen multi-role fighter, manufactured by Saab to meet its future defence needs.
Will be delivered into operational service in 2010
It is planned that the new Gripen fighters will be delivered into operational service in 2010. Sweden has also offered the Gripen fighters with a two years maintenance and spare parts support package.
Moreover, other benefits in the form of Thai - Sweden co-operation are proposed to enhance economic security - such as industrial co-operation, maintenance and logistics co-operation, technology transfer, investment co-operation, export as well as science and technology.
Source: Thailand selects Gripen and Erieye
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