Thailand has chosen to buy major defense equipment from China, Russia and European countries and not their long time supplier, the US.
Thai Navy has vouched for Chinese-made submarines and the air force has picked South Korean T50 TH trainer jets, instead of American Textron AirLand Scorpion, Bangkokpost reported Monday.
The country's defence spending this fiscal year is huge, accounting for 207.7 billion baht, or 7.6%, of overall budget spending. The sum is a 7.3% increase, or about 14.76 billion baht, on the 2015 fiscal year.
It is believed the regime is seeking to expand defence ties with Russia and China and Europe, and reduce armament dependence on the US because of the latter's pressure on the military government.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has recently made visits to China and Russia to discuss defence deals.
"I came to Russia with seven cabinet ministers, which is unprecedented. It speaks volumes about Russia's importance," Gen Prayut was quoted as saying to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medevev during their meeting.
Gen Prayut also announced the country would expand military and security cooperation with Russia that would cover procurement of military hardware.
A source in the army said the army has decided to buy a dozen MI-17 transport helicopters from Russia, instead of Black Hawks from the US as in the past. A Black Hawk is more expensive. The MI-17 planned procurement is a part of the army's helicopter purchase plans.
According to army commander Teerachai Nakwanich, the army's helicopter purchase proposal is only about 50% of what the army really needs. As for armoured vehicles, the source said a procurement committee is considering T-90 tanks from Russia. The army had earlier purchased 28 of China's VT4 tanks. The delivery is expected in two years. However, the decision to buy the Chinese tanks has drawn criticism as they are a new model, with Thailand being the first to test their capability. Gen Teerachai has defended the army's choice, saying the tank's price and specifications will meet both the budget and current requirements.
The air force's decision to purchase T-50 TH training aircraft from South Korea is also seen as a shift from US dependence.
A source in the air force said a batch of four T-50 THs will replace the Czech Republic's L39 planes which are 20 years old. The T-50 TH aircraft also come with fighter capability. The navy's plan to procure three S26 T Yuan Class submarines from China for 36 billion baht is also being closely watched now the regime is deepening relations with China.
A source in the navy said Gen Prawit once told the navy he would allocate funds from the central budget to subsidise the procurement plan but backed off out of fear of being criticised. The navy was asked to draw up a new budget spanning 11 years and using its own funds.
Gen Prawit said the government is willing to expand military cooperation with every nation with a focus on research and development in the defence industry.
"We are friends to every nation. The US is a long-time ally. China is an ally in the region. Russia also makes an approach. We are attractive," he said.
The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has signed an agreement with China to procure MBT-3000 main battle tanks. The contract to procure an initial 28 MBT-3000 (or VT-4, as referred by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO)) was signed on 16 May
Thailand plans to purchase Mi-17V5 helicopters from Russia for the army for disaster mitigation and troop deployment. The purchase of the Russian military transport helicopters is needed as the army lacks planes to replace the American CH-47 Chinook, a supply transport aircraft, Army commander-in-chief Teerachai Nakwanich was quoted as saying by
Thailand may buy four more Saab Gripen JAS 39 multirole combat aircraftto the current fleet of 12 fighters. Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong was quoted as saying by
Twelve ships carrying 28 VT4 battle tank from China arrived in the naval port of Thung Prong port on Monday making up the first batch of tanks purchased from Norinco, China for 4.9 billion baht (US$ 150
Russia and Thailand have signed an intergovernmental agreement on military cooperation, TASS reports Thursday. According to a source in the Russian embassy in Bangkok, the agreement was signed by Deputy Director of Russias Federal Service for Military Cooperation Mikhail Petukhov and Director of the Joint Logistics of the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters Vice Admiral Tiwa Daramuang
Russia will implement a deal on delivery of three Sukhoi Superjet planes to Thailand. "Two planes have already been delivered to the leadership of Thailand's Armed Forces through Rosoboronexport," said Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Department of Russia's Rostec State Corporation Victor Kladov
Thailand has expressed interest in building military cooperation with China, particularly in development of small arms and security equipment. Thai defense ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich was quoted as saying by Reuters Wednesday that Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan had talks with his Chinese counterpart, Chang Wanquan about building military production facilities in Thailand, during his visit to Beijing last week
Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has ordered two additional mission-ready twin-engine EC725 (now marketed as the H225M Caracal) multirole utility helicopters that are equipped with fast roping, cargo sling, search light and electro-optical systems (EOS). The order is part of the continuation of its fleet strengthening programme agreement launched in 2012
The Thailand Air Force is eyeing to buy a new fleet of transport aircraft to replace their ageing C-130 Hercules. The competition between Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation Y-9 and Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules might emerge for procurement of new transport planes, an official was quoted as saying by
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