The Royal Thai Air Force has signed an agreement with the US Government to buy 18 used Lockheed Martin F-16A/Bs. The deal, worth about $133 million, is awaiting final approval from the Thai cabinet.

The USA confirms that the aircraft will be "AMRAAM-capable", but no missiles are included in the deal, which was approved by the US Congress in January. There is no on-going process to approve Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM deliveries to Thailand, but embassy officials in Bangkok say that this could change quickly in a crisis. Singapore has been offered a similar arrangement for the AIM-120.

If the Thai cabinet approves the purchase by 28 June, reconditioning work on the aircraft could be included in a continuing US F-16 upgrade programme, allowing the aircraft to be delivered in two years.

Thailand is expected to pay $35 million of the F-16 cost in Boeing F/A-18 spares which were bought as part of a cancelled procurement. The supply of AMRAAM was a key element of the F/A-18 deal.

The aircraft destined for the Thai air force are understood to have flown between 2,000h and 3,000h, giving them a remaining service life of about 20 years.

Source: Flight International