In 1996, the government of Thailand signed a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract for four F/A-18Cs and four F/A-18Ds, plus associated equipment. The order also included AGM-84 Harpoon anti-shipping missiles, and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles were expected to be included at a later time. Delivery was scheduled for October 1999.
Unfortunately, almost all of Asia encountered a severe economic downturn during the late 1990s, with Thailand being specially hard hit. Because of the economic difficulties, the government of Thailand was forced to embark upon a severe austerity orogram and was forced to devalue its currency. Thailand could no longer afford to pay for the Hornets it had just ordered, and was forced to either cancel its order or to to try and sell its still underlivered F/A-18C/D Hornets to some other customer.
At the time of cancellation, the eight planes were on the production line at Boeing. After some discussion, it was decided that the US Marine Corps would purchase the four Cs and four Ds that had been ordered by Thailand. Before delivery to the Marine Corps, the eight planes were all converted to Night Attack F/A-18D configuration.
In place of the cancelled Hornets, Thailand plans to upgrade about half of its fleet of Northrop F-5E/F Tigers. This upgrade will be performed by Elbit Systems of Israel.