Thailand gets six jet fighters from Sweden
Thailand has received its first batch of Swedish-made Gripen jet fighters to replace the air force's ageing fleet of US-made F5s, media reports said Wednesday.
Swedish pilots late Tuesday successfully landed six of the Gripen 39 C/D fighters at Thailand's air force base in Surat Thani, 450 kilometres south of Bangkok, the Bangkok Post reported.
The Thai Air Force is to spend an estimated 40 billion baht (1.3 billion dollars) on 12 the new fighters from aerospace manufacturer Saab AB to replace its decades-old F5-A/B fighters, made by Northrop Grumman Corporation, DPA reported.
The air force also owns a fleet of F16 fighters, made by US company Lockheed Martin Corp, two of which crashed earlier this month during a military exercise.
Thailand is the first country in South-East Asia to purchase Gripens, which can be fitted with weapons currently used on F16s.
"It's different from the F5 jet I've flown before," said Group Captain Putthipong Phonchiwin, one of the Thai pilots who has received training on the jet. "It's like comparing a sedan and a sports car."