The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has taken delivery of three Saab JAS 39 Gripen multi-role combat aircraft under contract from Sweden at Wing 7 air base in Surat Thani, Thailand.
Despite the aircraft departing Sweden on 30 August, the delivery was delayed after one of the aircraft was struck by lightning over the Indian Ocean, and was forced to make an emergency landing in India, The Nation reports.
Thai Air Force spokesman air vice-marshal Monthon Satchukorn was quoted by the news agency as saying that the aircraft had stopped for scheduled fuelling and some of the parts in the lightning-struck aircraft were changed.
The aircraft will be thoroughly checked by air force mechanics before entering operational service, Satchukorn said.
The new aircraft represent the final three of six Gripen C fighters ordered from Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) along with a Saab 340 Erieye long-range airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) system and the RB 15F missile system in November 2010.
The initial batch of three aircraft was delivered in February 2011.
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Thailand had also placed orders for six JAS 39 aircraft, including two C-models and four D-models, along with a Saab 340 system, Saab 340 transport, simulators, and a comprehensive logistic support and training package for Thai pilots and technicians in February 2008, with deliveries commencing in 2011.
The aircraft are scheduled to replace RATF’s existing Northrop Grumman-built F-5B/E fighter fleet.
Powered by a single Volvo-Flygmotor RM12 engine, the JAS 39 Gripen is a lightweight, multirole fighter aircraft designed to conduct a wide range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions.
Image: Thai Air Force personnel along with the newly delivered JAS 39 Gripen C fighter aircraft. Photo: © 2013-2015 rtaf.mi.