According to Chinese media outlet Sina, the Royal Thai Air Force has proposed a new generation of fighter aircraft to replace the existing F-16A/B fighter, and China’s J-10C fighter is one of the potential candidates. If the bid is successful, J-10C fighter might witness the export of its first order.
According to Royal Thai Air Force, the current F-16A/B fighter jets were introduced in the late 1980s and has been in service for nearly 30 years.
The life span of a three-generation fighter is generally 30 calendar years. The Royal Thai Air Force upgraded the active F-16A/B fighter in 2010, it achieved the F-16MLU level and enhanced its combat capability.
The FC-20CE could face tough competition from the most powerful competitors in the Royal Thai Air Force new fighter program, namely F-16V Block 70, and JAS-39E/F Gripen.
The RTAF currently operates a squadron of Gripen C/D and successfully integrated Gripen with RTAF’s airborne early warning radar and data link with Royal Thai Navy. Thailand maintains defense procurement policy of East and West origin, but its air force mainly equipped with Western origin equipment.
The FC-20CE is an export derivative of J-10C with domestic WS-10B engine replacing Russian Klimov engine.
The Chinese J-10C fighter is a dark horse of the Royal Thai Air Force’s new generation fighter program. J-10C fighter is the latest improvement of China’s J-10 fighter.
It is equipped with a domestic WS-10B turbofan engine. The airborne fire control radar is upgraded to an active phased array radar. The cockpit is made of vitrified cockpit and the airborne weapon is medium and long. Air-to-air missiles and infrared imaging combat air-to-air missiles have the same overall combat capability as three generations of improved and three-generation-and-half fighters.
For export-oriented fighters, China is also open to airborne mission computers, allowing customers to access source code and integrate their own weapons and equipment.
There is also a relatively low price of domestic fighters. The price of the J-10C fighter is said to be only about half of JAS-39E/F fighters, which could be very attractive for Thailand.
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