The Royal Thailand Air Force has delayed the purchase of six additional Gripen fighters and one airborne early warning aircraft from SAAB.

The air force had signed a deal for an equal number of fighters and early warning aircraft from the manufacturer in 2005, to which the new crafts were to be added.

The change is in response to a trimmed defence budget at 151bn baht (approximately $4.43bn) from the previous 171bn baht (approximately $5.03bn).

As a result of this, Thailand will continue to operate its older fleet of F-5 fighters into the next decade.

The air force had initially planned to retire the F-5s in 2013 when all 12 of the new Gripens would have become operational.

Thailand will now receive three of the six fighters by the end of 2010 and the rest by April 2011.

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