Thailand plans to delay its purchase of eight Boeing F/A-18C/Ds by three years because of the country's economic crisis. A team from the Royal Thai Air Force plans to visit Boeing in mid-January in a bid to re-negotiate the $392 million contract, signed in 1996, which now calls for delivery by 2000. Thailand wants to delay delivery to 2003.

The country's currency has lost 45% of its value against the US dollar since July 1997, effectively doubling the cost of the aircraft and forcing the air force to examine three options: cancelling the contract; selling the aircraft to a third country; and delaying delivery.

Air force commander-in-chief ACM Thananit Naimchin is reported as saying that cancellation would incur a termination penalty of $250 million, while no potential buyers for the aircraft have been identified. This leaves delaying delivery as the only option.

Thailand wants to delay delivery so as to spread payments. The air force has paid almost $75 million so far, and is scheduled to pay $93 million in 1998, but is reportedly seeking to reduce that to $40 million.

Production of the aircraft has begun and they are due for hand-over to the US Navy in 1999.

Source: Flight International