The Royal Thai Air Force is close to ordering 18 used F-16A/Bs from the USA, for about 5 billion baht ($135 million).

The US Embassy in Bangkok confirms that Thailand has expressed an interest in the aircraft, and says the normal time allowed for any queries or objections to be lodged by the US Congress on such a sale has already expired.

"The Thai air force is going through its budget projections now, and this will include a refund programme on [Boeing] F/A-18 spares," says the Embassy. "Nothing is set in stone yet."

Thailand bought spares reportedly worth $35 million as part of its cancelled F/A-18 procurement programme, and is in talks with the US Government to determine the value of the refund for these parts, which will be used to help finance the F-16 procurement.

Once the Thai air force has determined its budget, it will submit a purchase proposal confirming the number of aircraft, and any refurbishing or upgrade work to be carried out, say US officials.

Officials say the budget assessment should be complete by the end of January, and should be followed by a purchase proposal in the first week of February.

Source: Flight International