Beijing tries to reconcile with Thailand on defense after the refusal of the United States on the F-35

China is stepping up overtures for a rapprochement with Thailand on defense matters, after the United States refused to export the F-35 fighter to Bangkok a few days ago.

Throughout the Cold War, and especially during the Vietnam War, Thailand had been one of Washington's staunchest allies, going so far as to welcome US Air Force fighter squadrons to its air bases, without what the American armies could have counted only on the jets aboard the aircraft carriers of the US Navy to ensure their cover.

After the Cold War, however, Bangkok freed itself from US tutelage to adopt a more neutral stance, notably opening the way to a rapprochement with Moscow and especially Beijing.

Thus, from 2009, China was the second largest foreign investor in this country, while at the same time, the American economic and military presence continued to decline. This rapprochement culminated in the 2010s with the signing of several arms contracts with Chinese manufacturers, aiming to acquire both land equipment (VT-4 heavy tanks, VN-1 infantry fighting vehicles, VLS DTI-1G and SR-4) and in the naval field (S-26T submarines, Type 071E assault, Type 053 frigates).

However, up to now, Bangkok had systematically given preference to American and Western systems concerning the equipment of its air forces, which notably implemented 11 Saab Gripen C/Ds, 51 F-16s and around thirty F-5 for its fighter fleet.

royal thai army vt 4 mbt 3000 main battle tank 1 Military Alliances | Fighter jets | Flash Defense
Thailand implements today about thirty heavy tanks VT-4 (MBT 3000) of Chinese design

It is precisely to replace these obsolete aircraft that the Royal Thai Air Force has undertaken to look for a new model of fighter.

For a long time, the Gripen was considered the favorite in this competition, until January 2022, Chief Air Marshal Napadej Dhupatemiya announced to everyone's surprise that he intended to turn to the American F-35A, considered more efficient and economical than the Swedish aircraft.

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