09 Juni 2012

Parts Row Delays Delivery of 6 Saab Aircraft

09 Juni 2012

RTAF’s Saab Gripen fighter aircraft (photo : TAF)

The delivery of six more Saab aircraft from Sweden has been delayed, a Royal Thai Air Force source said yesterday.

The delivery of the six Saab 340 AEW airborne early warning aircraft was set for last Tuesday at Don Muang military air base with the ceremony to welcome them scheduled for last Wednesday at Wing 7 in Surat Thani.

But this has now been put off because an American parts supplier has refused to sell some key products to the Swedish manufacturer for reasons that are unclear, said the source.

The Saab 340 AEW is used to control the Gripen fighter fleet.

"Certain key items of the jet parts and the radar system produced by the US firm have not been granted permission to be sold to other countries," said the source. "And that has resulted in a delay in [the Swedish company's] assembling of the aircraft which I really have no idea when will be completed.

"I'm not sure if this is a game or not because the Royal Thai Air Force chose the Gripen from Sweden over the F series aircraft from the United States. The latter might not be happy with that," said the source.

Air force commander Itthaporn Subha-wong travelled to Sweden late last month to discuss the delivery with Saab but to no avail, said the source.

Previously, the air force bought a total of 12 Gripen fighter jets from Sweden along with two Saab 340 AEW aircraft and one Saab 340 transport aircraft for a total of 34 billion baht.

The first batch of aircraft of six Gripen fighter jets, one Saab 340 AEW and one Saab 340 has been delivered and commissioned at Wing 7.

The second batch of another six Gripen jets and one more Saab 340 AEW aircraft are awaiting delivery.

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