Bangkok (VNA) – The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) is seeking a budget of 40 billion THB (1.2 billion USD) for fiscal 2024 with additional funds needed for essential aircraft upgrades and replacements, Commander-in-Chief Air Chief Marshall Alongkorn Vannarot has said.

The budget allocation for RTAF for fiscal 2023 was 36.1 billion THB.

The RTAF needs the extra money for projects that will take years to implement, Alongkorn told local media, adding that this need will not change when the new government takes office after the general election scheduled to take place in May.

The air force chief said the RTAF must replace its Airbus A340-500, which has been in service for 18 years. The plane's uses included humanitarian missions, such as the recent assistance for earthquake victims in Turkey. It was due to be decommissioned in 2026, he said.

Alongkorn also said that the RTAF will spend its budget on improving the radar efficiency of Saab 340 aircraft, adding that the plane was used in air defence operations during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November last year.

A plan to buy F-35A combat aircraft from the US was included in the air force's 2024 budget submission, but approval by the US Congress is still required, he said, noting that the air force is also looking at other options./.