ASEAN Defense: Thai army march away from traditional arms suppliers to China & Ukraine

  • By Stingray, Thai Intel’s national security journalist

Thailand‘s army, under Prayuth, is taking Thailand further and further away from Western arms manufacturing, first signing a deal with China to make rockets and now verges on a deal with the Ukraine to manufacture personal armour carriers.

  • Thailand’s arms purchased with the Ukraine, globally well-known for a corrupt arms industry to the point of being warned by the EU, started during the military coup government of 2006.

Most local military analysts and most military blogs in Thailand, says the move on China and Ukraine, is a deliberate policy of the Thai army, to, quote: “Put distance between Thailand and western arms makers.”

Indeed, Western Arms Makers, have long been known to have cornered out Thailand’s arms purchase, having forged close personal relationship with the Thai defense establishment, with most of Thailand’s current stock of weapons, of all armed forces branches, mostly a Western stack.

  • Yet the move to forge closer links to China and Ukraine, appears to be mostly on the low-end of the technology area, as the Thai army, under Prayuth, continues to rely on Western Arms Makers for the more advance equipment, such as in the up-grading of Thailand’s small tanks with advance equipment from Europe and the USA.

Indeed, Western arms makers continues to forge close relationship with Thailand on the high technology area, having formed several joint, Thai Western, arms technology firms in Thailand to up-grade Thailand’s military equipment related stack.

Earlier, a few months ago, Thailand and China, disclosed a program to develop rockets and multiple launchers for those rockets. It is not known how this rocket project with China, will impact the local rocket and missile program, launched by Thaksin, with a said open end budget, when Thaksin was Thailand’s Prime Minister.

  • The pervious Thai government of Abhisit, in what most local analysts say is to say thank you to the Thai army for its support, allocated a massive budget for the Thai military, to which that comes on top of massive budgeting under the Sorrayuth, 2006 coup government.

Much of that budget went to Swedish Gripen fighter jest, and to start formation of a new mechanize division in the E-Sarn region, adjacent to Cambodia, where Thailand and Cambodia, have often clashed militarily.

  • Then Thailand ordered 100s of armoured personal vehicles from the Ukraine. But faced with an engine problem, being a German firm denied the engines, the spec for the purchase was changed to allowed the Ukraine to use other engines. The delivery of the Ukraine armoured personal vehicles  thus was rocked with delays, raising corruption and wrong spec allegations.

Irregularities in the purchses, sees the Thai Senate making inquiries on the Ukraine purchses.

Thus far, of the 100s ordered, it is not known to the public how many of these Ukraine armoured carriers have been delivered.

  • Kiev Post Reports:

Ukroboronprom and Defence Ministry of Thailand to discuss prospects for the joint assembly of Ukrainian BTR-3E1s in Thailand, as well as the possibility of instructing the Thai side on Ukraines technology for the production of small-caliber ammunition. (photo : nou999 & manager)

Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai army General Prayuth Chan-ocha attended Ukraines stand at the EUROSATORY-2012 international defence exhibition, which will take place in Paris until June 15, according to Ukrspecexport.

“While examining the prototype of Ukraines new BTR-4 at the stand, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai army noted the high quality of Ukrainian armored vehicles that are exploited in Thailand,” a representative from Ukrspecexport told Interfax-Ukraine.

The state company said that Head of state concern Ukroboronprom Dmytro Perehudov held a meeting with the management of the Defence Ministry of Thailand to discuss prospects for the joint assembly of Ukrainian BTR-3E1s in Thailand, as well as the possibility of instructing the Thai side on Ukraines technology for the production of small-caliber ammunition.

Ukraine has been actively developing military and technical cooperation with Thailand and hopes for the successful promotion of its armored vehicles on the Asian arms market.

As reported, the amount of contracts for the supply to Thailand of armed vehicles, particularly Oplot main battle tanks and BTR-3E1 armored personnel carriers, which were signed in 2006-2011 and are currently being implemented, exceeds $500 million.

Ukraine will demonstrate at the EUROSATORY-2012 exhibition its best armored vehicles and highly-accurate ground-mounted weapon systems. The prototypes of BTR-4 armored personnel carriers, the Oplot tank, the Skif portable antitank guided missile launcher, and the Adros station for optical-electronic suppression will be presented on Ukraines stand at the exhibition.

Visitors of the exhibition will also have an opportunity to examine one-fifteenth scale models of MT-LBR6 and BTR-3E1 armored personnel carriers, and Manhust radio location set for reconnaissance of ground-based, over-water, and low-flying targets.

EUROSATORY exhibition have been held under the aegis of the Defence Ministry of France since 1967 every two years, and is the only international defence exhibition dedicated only to ground security and defence.

(Kiev Post)