After spending billions on submarines and tanks, the Ministry of Defence is planning to spend another 8.8 billion baht on new fighter jets for the Air Force.
On 10 July 2017, the Ministry of Defence revealed that Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the Defence Minister, will submit a proposal to the cabinet meeting on 11 July to procure eight T-50TH fighter jets from South Korea for the Royal Thai Air Force. The deal will cost the country about 8.8 billion baht.
The Ministry argued that the new fighter jets will replace the already obsolete L-39 aircraft, adding that two years ago the cabinet approved Ministry’s proposal to buy a total of 16 T-50TH fighter jets over a three year period.
Opposing the deal, the Association to Protect the Thai Constitution (APTC) issued a statement saying that the procurement goes against Articles 62, 75, and 76 of the 2017 Constitution, as the nation is facing an economic downturn and the prices of agricultural products have fallen to record lows.
Article 62 of the 2017 Constitution states that the state shall maintain fiscal discipline for the efficiency and stability of the nation.
Article 75 stipulates that people shall have equal economic opportunities and benefits, while Article 76 states that all levels of governance shall be coordinated and operated for the greatest public benefit and that state officials shall work honestly and efficiently.
Srisuwan Janya, Secretary-General of the APTC, said the procurement is not necessary because the country is not in a state of armed conflict.
He suggested that the government would do better to spend the money on subsidizing agricultural products.
Last month, the junta cabinet gave the green light to the Ministry of Defence to spend 2.3 billion baht on tanks from China. That deal came after earlier this year the junta approved a plan to spend nearly 40 billion baht on 38 VT-4 tanks and three submarines from China, maintaining that the new weapons are vital for defence.
T-50TH fighter jets from South Korea (Photo from http://rach1968.blogspot.com/2015/09/t-50th.html)