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Thailand lost 7 fighter jets in accidents in 11 years

A Royal Thai Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashed while on a training flight in the north-eastern province of Chaiyaphum this afternoon (Tuesday), but the pilot managed to eject safely, according to Spokesperson for the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Air Vice Marshal Prapas Sornchaidee.

He said that a rescue team was immediately sent to the crash site, in Chatturat district, after the 103rd Air Wing Command had been alerted of the accident.

The pilot managed to eject himself from the aircraft and is safe, according to a spokesperson for the Royal Thai Air Force. 

He said that the pilot had been assisted by villagers in the area and the rescue team when it arrived. He also urged villagers not to get close to the plane wreckage for safety reasons.

The spokesperson says that the incident was reported to the relevant department and committee, who will then investigate the cause of the crash. The Royal Thai Air Force authorities will also visit the scene to collect more evidence and assess the amount of damage.

This is the 5th F-16 accident on a total of 7 if we include the F-5 fighter jet accident as well.

Last December, one F-5 fighter jet, of the 211th Air Wing, crashed while on a weapons training exercise in Chai Badan district of Lop Buri. It is believed that the crash was caused by a bird strike, later identified as an open-billed stork.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is one of the world’s most successful and combat-proven military aircraft to ever fly. F-16s in operation with militaries worldwide have now collectively taken part in more than 400,000 combat sorties and have logged a combined 19 million flight hours.

The F-5 remains one of the most enduring supersonic fighters made, and one of the most elegant and good looking. It remains (with the Mirage F-1AZ and CZ) one of the most manoeuvrable fighters of its era, and is even more remarkable when you consider how inexpensive it was to build and operate for its buyers.

Royal Thai Air Force Spokesperson Air Vice-Marshal Prapas Sornchaidee has announced that a committee reviewing Thailand’s fighter aircraft acquisition plan has concluded that the Kingdom should purchase 5th-generation fighter jets, as they are best suited for current strategic demands.

Air Vice-Marshal Prapas said a panel chaired by Deputy Air Chief Marshal Thanasak Metanan assessed the air force’s policies, missions and operational plans and decided that 5th-gen fighter jets possess the critical functions necessary to safeguard national security interests.

The jets under review included the US-made F35, China’s J-20 and Russia’s SU-57.

According to Air Vice-Marshal Prapas, necessary functions include network-centric operations, counter-air strikes, surveillance and reconnaissance, long-range operations, and effective control of air operations. He added that this generation of fighter jets will also feature crucial capabilities such as stealth, supercruise, sensor fusion and high manoeuvrability.

The panel, which was set up on January 10, also considered the aircraft’s systems’ reliability, the air force’s budget, delivery schedule and technology transfer offers.

A committee report is expected to be presented to Air Force Commander Air Chief-Marshal Napadej Dhupatemiya next month for further consideration. Thailand currently operates 12 JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets and dozens of F-16 and F-5 fighter jets from the United States.


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