Shock and awe as fighter jet rolls down Sukhumvit Road

Friday, 01 August 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 31 By  Patcharapol Panrak

From bookcases on the back of motorbikes to pickups stacked twice their height with aluminum cans, we here in Thailand are used to seeing odd things on the roads, but a AV-8S Harrier jump jet rolling down Sukhumvit Road had everyone talking.

Formerly part of the air wing for the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, the British-built jet was moved July 22 to the Royal Thai Marine Corps Museum. The jet had been mothballed in a hanger at the corps’ Jetsada camp for some time.

From bookcases on the back of motorbikes to pickups stacked twice their height with aluminum cans, we here in Thailand are used to seeing odd things on the roads, but an AV-8S Harrier jump jet rolling down Sukhumvit Road had everyone talking. From bookcases on the back of motorbikes to pickups stacked twice their height with aluminum cans, we here in Thailand are used to seeing odd things on the roads, but an AV-8S Harrier jump jet rolling down Sukhumvit Road had everyone talking.

The journey was slow and difficult. An electric cart, normally used to jockey airplanes or luggage trains around an airport, towed the plane 10 kilometers over two hours with residents lining the street, snapping away with cameras and phones.

The jet had been one of nine on Thailand’s only aircraft carrier, which now has just a handful of working planes due to lack of maintenance, age and a scarcity of spare parts.

Thailand bought seven first-generation AV-8S and two tandem-seat TAV-8S Matador versions of the Harrier from the Spanish navy in 1986, but never allocated enough money for spare parts, repair and overhaul and only seven pilots were trained to fly them in the first two years.

Three months later, two of the planes were grounded because of power and electrical problems. Few, if any, of the planes are believed to be operational today.

Maintenance workers tow an AV-8S Harrier jump jet down Sukhumvit Road, causing heads to turn and many photos to be taken.

What’s that ahead, holding up traffic?  It looks like a fighter jet, but it can’t be…

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