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$ 150.5 million).
The 28 tanks that were received by the Army will be supplemented next year with 21 others at a cost of 4 billion baht.
The tanks were ferried to the Royal Thai Army Cavalry Centre at Adisorn Military camp in Saraburi for inspection by an army installed panel. The 28 tanks will be commissioned at the Third Cavalry Division at the Prem Tinsulanonda Military Camp in Khon Kaen’s Nam Phong District, Bangkok Post reported.
Army chief Chalermchai Sitthisad was quoted as saying that the procurement was decided by an army committee, whose members earlier travelled to China to see the tanks being tested.
The procurement of the 28 Chinese tanks was approved early last year. The purchase of another 11 tanks, worth two billion baht, was given the green light in the middle of the year. The final 10-tank costing a further two billion baht will be proposed later for cabinet approval.
The army has decided to buy the Chinese tanks because the Thai and Chinese defence authorities plan set up a military hardware repair facility in Thailand in the future and also because the Chinese tanks were the most cost-effective in the market. The army also plans to buy VN1 armored vehicles from China.
This is the second big procurement from China since last year. Thailand bought three submarines earlier in the face of strong domestic criticism questioning the need for such big ticket procurement.