The chief of Thailand’s air force wants to buy eight American-built F-35 fighter jets. While the sale would be a shot in the arm for the US-Thailand alliance, Washington may be reluctant to approve the sale because of Thailand’s growing military ties with China. ISEAS academic Ian Storey examines the factors at play.
The US Department of Defence has asserted that Beijing has “likely considered” logistics and basing infrastructure in five Southeast Asian countries. It is worth noting that such arrangements are predicated on a host nation’s inclination to support such a presence. At the moment, such willingness appears to be in short supply, except in the case of Cambodia.
The Thai military has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to Chinese largesse, however, it will be able to secure the military kit it wants and continue its exercises with the People's Liberation Army.