Thailand signs space services pact with United States

Long-time allies Thailand and the United States recently signed a bilateral agreement for space situational awareness services and data in which the U.S. will share information with Thailand. The Kingdom’s new air force chief paid a visit to the United States Pacific Command in Pearl Harbor shortly after the pact was concluded.

“Formalizing this relationship with our oldest Southeast Asian partner is crucial as space becomes more contested,” said Rear Adm. Richard Correll who signed the agreement on behalf of the United States Strategic Command. “Agreements like this one, between responsible nations, ensure safe and secure space operations.”

Although Thailand has no formal space exploration program, it does have an orbital presence. The country owns and licenses several communications satellites that are essential to national security and economic development. The first Thai-owned satellite was launched in 1991.

Thailand is now one of 16 nations that have signed a space services agreement with the United States, placing the Kingdom in an information-sharing network that includes more than 70 commercial satellite owners, operators, and launchers. The European Space Agency and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites are also members.

“Thailand signing these guidelines with the United States demonstrates their continued leadership within the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] ASEAN organization and firmly establishes the Royal Thai Air Force in the Space Community,” said Correll.

At the end of the month, Air Chief Marshal Chaiyapruk Didyasarin the new Royal Thai Air Force commander in chief made his first overseas trip following his promotion in October. U.S. General CQ Brown, Jr., Pacific Air Forces commander, hosted ACM Chaiyapruk at the Headquarters of the Pacific Air Force (PACAF) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“It’s great to have Air Chief Marshal Chaiyapruk and the rest of his delegation visit PACAF,” Brown said. “It’s very important that he was able to come here as a key partner within the region.”

Thailand is the oldest treaty ally of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, and this year marks the 200th anniversary of the first contacts between the two countries. Brown said that the visit would help enhance the already close relationship between the air forces of the two nations.

The two commanders also discussed the F-16 Fighting Falcon midlife upgrade, the Washington Air National Guard – Thailand’s National Guard state partner – and the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

High on the agenda were discussions about new types of warfare and new theaters of conflict. Those include space and cyberspace.

“We also talked about space, cyber capabilities, how we look at a free and open Indo-Pacific and continue to work together for the security of the region,” Brown said.

“It’s part of our readiness; it’s part of how we strengthen our allies and partners across the region. We’ve had relative peace for the past 70 years, the goal is to have relative peace for the next 70 years, and you can’t do that by just thinking about today,” Brown said.

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