As Southeast Asia’s growing prosperity and political challenges filter down to it military buys, equipment in the region continues to become more sophisticated. An influx of modern submarines around critical ocean chokepoints has received the most attention, but parallel growth is occurring with fighter aircraft – and with other advanced airplanes as well.
In October 2007, Thailand announced a 2-phase deal to buy both a handful of Saab’s 4.5 generation JAS-39 Gripen fighters, and Saab’s S-1000 Erieye airborne early warning planes. They join Pakistan, which has also ordered Saab’s Erieye, and Singapore, which operates E-2 Hawkeyes and has ordered Israeli G550 Phalcon AEW&C aircraft. India has ordered the larger and more capable IL-76 Phalcon from Russia and Israel, and may be looking to add a medium sized AWACS platform. To the south, Australia’s E-737 “Wedgetail” AWACS has faced delivery delays, but will arrive in the region shortly.