10 Desember 2011
RTAF JAS-39C Gripen (photo : Scramble)
The air force is defending its request to the government for 10 billion baht for post-flood rehabilitation work.
Air force chief Itthaporn Subhawong said the flood caused vast damage to expensive facilities and high-technology communication systems and armaments.
Cutting the budget would compromise the air force's ability to do its job.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has questioned why the air force needs so much and asked for more detail, Defence Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said.
The prime minister, who visited the Defence Ministry yesterday, said the air force should prioritise spending and break it down into more detailed figures.
ACM Itthaporn said the air force asked for 10,563 million baht. He said the damage was assessed by a government-appointed committee.
"The budget we proposed truly reflects the amount of damage the air force incurred," he said.
Some equipment that was not totally ruined would be fixed, not replaced.
"We understand flood recovery in the country will be expensive. But the air force is one of the country's main defence systems.
"If rehabilitation is insufficient, we won't be able to function with the same level of capability as before," he said. The faster the money is disbursed, the sooner the force will get back on its feet.
The source said the air force may still consider trimming the funding request by up to 1.3 billion baht. It would carry out as much repair work as possible rather than acquiring new equipment.
Ms Yingluck plans to visit the air force again on Wednesday, when she will also visit the army. She will drop in on the navy the next day. "We must work together and treat each other with honour," she said. Gen Yutthasak said Ms Yingluck plans to visit the Defence Ministry regularly and have lunch with the armed forces leaders every two months as part of a policy of forging closer ties with the military.