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DESPITE the current travails, it appears that the MRCA programme is inching towards the final stage. And the aircraft shortlisted has been cut to two.
Unsurprisingly, the two are the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale.

Industry and ministry officials said although Boeing and Saab are aware of the latest developments they are still plugging away their planes as no contract have been signed yet. That said however if the funding magically appears tomorrow, it will be either the Typhoon or Rafale that will be chosen.

The decision on the MRCA could be made soon, I am told though funding remained the biggest issue on the table. As both UK and France offers funding options under a government-to-government deal the tricky issue could be resolved.

If we go for the proposed funding options, the payment period for the aircraft may well spread out for at least 10 years based on statements made by the Defence Minister in the past. I am no finance expert but I think it could go up to 20 years. Which also mean that we will only get 18 jets only and not more.

As which one is the more likely candidate for the MRCA programme, my guess is as good as yours. Both aircraft have their own merits so at the end of the day the political considerations will tip the scale.

What about the proposals about buying Hornets from Kuwait then? That is only a proposal made in this website, it was never AFAIK considered by the government.

Furthermore, how will the MRCA programme affect other projects of the Armed Forces? Little or no impact actually as the major programmes – the AV8, A400M and LCS – are already accounted for. It is this army/air force centric funding that leaves the navy scrambling to find funds for its own recapitalisation plans. That resulted in the proposed 15 to 5 plan.




Thailand mulls buying four more Saab JAS 39 Gripen jets



Thailand might probably buy four more Swedish jet fighters to add to a current squadron of 12 fighters of the same type, said Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong on Thursday.

Prajin, a former Thai air force chief, said that he viewed Saab JAS 39 Gripen multirole combat aircraft as "technologically advanced" and suggested that his successor buy an additional four Swedish jet fighters.

The Thai air force currently deploys the 12 Swedish fighters at Air Wing 7 in the southern province of Surat Thani. The Gripen fighter squadron was procured in 2008 to replace the United States' ageing F-5 Tiger fighters.

"One fighter squadron should not just consist of a dozen aircraft and four more should be added to it," said the deputy prime minister.

One JAS 39 Gripen fighter is currently estimated to cost 69 million U.S. dollars.

Prajin made his comments following a visit of Swedish ambassador Staffan Herrstrom to Government House during which they held talks about the Gripen fighters, Swedish digital technology and bilateral trade, among other topics.


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