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When the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) signed the agreement for its new Gripen multi-role fighter aircraft in February 2008, they signed up for something far more than just a replacement for the RTAF’s outgoing F-5 aircraft.

A complete package

The first contract for the RTAF complete air defence package includes:

  • Four two-seater and two single-seater Gripen fighters with associated equipment and service
  • One Saab 340B aircraft equipped with the ERIEYE Airborne Early Warning Radar System
  • A Saab 340B for transport and training
  • An integrated command & control system
  • A tactical information data-link solution

The solution is a true defence system multiplier encompassing combat platforms, sensors, command & control and communication. It will provide the RTAF with unrivalled air defence capabilities and the ability to integrate current as well as future platforms and infrastructures with exceptional growth potential. It is the first step towards a highly modern, capable and network centric RTAF.

RTAF placed a follow-up order for six Gripen and one Saab 340B ERIEYE AEW aircraft on 23 November 2010. This makes a total of 12 Gripen, two Saab 340B ERIEYE AEW and a Saab 340B for transport and training.

Gripen and SAAB 340 with Erieye

Image: Gripen and SAAB 340 with Erieye. Photo: Frans Dely

Thai pilot at the Swedish Air Force Base in Såtenäs, Sweden, for training on Gripen 

Image: Thai pilot at the Swedish Air Force Base in Såtenäs, Sweden, for training on Gripen. Photo: Gustav Gul F7.

Training included in the package

As part of the agreement, Sweden provides comprehensive training for pilots and technicians. The Thai fighter pilots will train at the Swedish Air Force Base in Såtenäs in exactly the same way as their colleagues from Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Exchange of knowledge and technology

Equally important as the ability to provide a complete air defence package was the commitment to technology transfer. Included in the contract is an extensive Technology Transfer commitment in order to support the RTAF. There is also a joint venture company set up between Saab and the Thai company Avia Satcom Co. Ltd in order to develop a local industry technology base. This company was launched in December 2009 to develop high technology products within aviation and defence.

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