ASEAN Defense: Exhibition sees Thailand & Ukraine calling for “Strategic Relationship”

  • By Stingray, Thai Intel’s national security journalist

Reporting on Asia’s most important tri-forces Defense and Security exhibition, being held in Thailand, the attached article from Interfax Ukraine, says Thailand and Ukraine will expand their “Strategic Relationship.”

With more than 250 individual exhibitors from 30 different countries, this exhibit in Thailand is one of the largest in the ASEAN region.

The Thai military, in recent months, have expressed interest in Main Battle Tanks, Submarines, Fighters Up-Grade and various advance military related electronics. However, Thailand’s arms spending, that ballooned, under the pro-military establishment government of Abhisit, a few years back-is now contingent upon the performance of the Thai economy-which has suffered massively as a result of last year’s devastating flood.

ASEAN wise, however, defense spending is increasing, as reported by Reuters-to be a response to a combination of concern over China and strong economic performances.

  • Strategic Relationship:

Thailand’s and Ukraine strategic relationship, could mean more Thai purchase of Ukraine arms, according to Interfax. The attached article also pointed to a “Technical Cooperation” between the two countries-however, there has been little news of this technical cooperation.

  • Local Technology:

Earlier, in the Thai Parliament, Yingluck, Thailand’s prime minister, said developing a local arms industry is one of her policy for the Thai military. However, since then, little progress in that direction have been made.

However, as related to local technology, in the past, Thailand have bought equipment from global suppliers, such as main battle tanks and armoured personal carriers, and have applied local technology, in adapting these foreign equipment to local operational conditions. The Thai military have also, robustly, supported a local rocket and missile industry.

The Thai military establishment have also targeted the export of Thai infantry related armament in three years, with already, local companies, are active in installing advance avionics to global customers. Additionally, local defense industry related to high technology firms are fast up-grading their line of products-often competing head-on with cutting edge global suppliers for contracts with the Thai military.

  • Corruption Concern:

Ever since the 2006 coup that kicked out Thaksin, the Thai military establishment have forged a strong relationship with Sweden for fighters aircrafts and Ukraine for mechanized division vehicles.

While, that relationship strengthened, critics of the Thai military-have often pointed to the corruption infected Swedish and Ukraine defense industry. Widely believed in Thailand is also that military generals who had power as a result of the 2006 coup, have also been involved in corruption.

At the Thai parliament recently, the arms forces committee asked representative from the Thai defense establishment, if there was a way to curb “said” corruption, relating to weapons acquisition.

Meanwhile, as Thailand opted for the moderate priced and capability weapons of war from Sweden and Ukraine arms industry, regionally, in recent years, several members of ASEAN have forged ahead with cutting edge advance weaponry.

  • The Current Exhibition:

Participating at the exhibition, are Scandinavian companies like SAAB AB – Sweden, Terma AS – Denmark and Nammo AS from Norway. Besides from the Scandinavian companies there are many other well known exhibitors travelling to Thailand for the exhibition. Some of the more notable ones are: Lockheed Martin, Rosoboronexport, Am General, Harris, MBDA, IMI, Rafael, BrahMos, Thales, DCNS and KIA Motor.

  • The following is from Interfax:

Thailand notes good prospects of military cooperation with Kyiv

Yesterday at 19:39 | Interfax-Ukraine

The military command of Thailand has highly evaluated the level of military and technical cooperation with Ukraine and is planning to discuss its prospects during an official visit to Kyiv on March.

The Thai side said this while viewing Ukraine’s stand at the international defense exhibition Defense & Security 2012 Exhibition, which opened in Bangkok (Thailand) on Monday, the Ukrspecexport State Company has told Interfax-Ukraine.

“There are serious prospects for the further development of cooperation between Thailand and Ukraine. We will actively work in this direction in future,” Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army Prayuth Chan-ocha said at the Ukrainian stand.

Defense Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand Sukampol Suwannathat, who also attended the exhibition, noted the high level of military and technical cooperation between the states.

“Of course, we have reached the level of strategic partnership with Ukraine. We start this partnership with the army and will improve it in other spheres,” he said.

The defense minister of Thailand also praised Ukrainian armored equipment, which is in demand in Thailand, and showed interest in the products presented at the stand.

According to Ukrspecexport, on the first day of work of the Defense & Security 2012 Exhibition military delegations from Russia, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and South Korea attended Ukraine’s’ stand.

Ukroboronprom State Concern and Ukrspecexport State Company represented Ukraine’s defense industry at the exhibition, which is taking place in Bangkok on March 5-8.

Ukraine’s stand features a BTR-3E1 armored personnel carrier, models of BTR-3E1s and BTR-4s, and the MT-LB armoured towing vehicle.

In addition, the country will show off its Skif portable antitank guided missile launcher, Adros station for optical-electronic suppression, Kolchuga radars, Zubr-type small amphibious hovercraft and Giurza armored riverboats.

Ukraine’s Kharkiv-based Morozov Design and Engineering Bureau, the Kharkiv Engine Design Bureau named after Malyshev, the Kyiv-based Luch State Design Bureau, and the Kyiv Mechanical Repair Plant, which belong to the Ukroboronprom concern, will take part in the exhibition.

The international exhibition Defense & Security has been organized under the aegis of the government and the Defense Ministry of Thailand since 2003 and is one of the biggest and most well-known security, defense, military equipment and armament exhibitions in Thailand.

According to open sources, Thailand’s defense budget for 2012 is estimated by $5.5 billion (1.4% of GDP). In 2013 Thailand is planning to increase expenditures on defense by 10%.

According to expert’s calculations, in 2006-2011 Ukraine and Thailand concluded contracts on supplies of Ukrainian armament to Thailand worth $500 million.

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