The Royal Thai Armed Forces began to procure defense equipment and promote cooperation between the government and private sector to research and develop and to put the military equipment into production.
After the elections earlier this year and have a democratic government Provision of military equipment has been opened wider.
Most recently, the government has approved the budget of 2020 for the Ministry of Defense for THB233,000 million, equivalent to 1.3 per cent of the GDP. Off this budget, there are about THB70-80 billion for maintenance of the old aging equipment that have been in service for over 30 years, as well as to procure some of the new equipment to replace the old aging ones.
Orders Beginning to Flow
This year, the Royal Thai Armed Forces have projects to procure various types of weapons. The Royal Thai army has begun to procure some of weapon systems from the United States after many years of being stopped. In April, the company ordered 70 Stryker wheeled armoured-vehicles with the budget of THB3,700 million and the first batch was delivered in September followed by the procurement of 8 AH-6i light patrol helicopters along with weapons systems for a total of THB4,226 million.
The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) had just signed a contract on 9th September to purchase the 20,000 tons LPD TYPE 071E, from the China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited (CSSC). In addition, the navy has been approved to acquire the medium surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles from China, which is expected to be the KS-1C with a budget of 1,970 million baht. Another interesting matter is that the RTN has just ordered the 30-mm AK-306gun system to be equipped with the Thai Navy’s warship, which is also the first weapon procurement from Russia by the RTN.
Domestic Defence Manufacturing Base
In the term of domestic production, the private sector has become more active. It can be seen from the Chiseri Company that succeeded in building a number of 4×4 First Win wheeled armoured vehicle that a number of them were sold to the Army and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). The company has created a new wheeled armoured vehicle called the First Win 4×4 ATV and the tracked APC, which is on display at the ongoing show.
The Panus Assembly Company is also showcasing its 4 x4 AFV-420 and 8×8 wheeled armoured vehicle R600 at the exhibition for the first time as well. The growth and progress of the domestic arms industry indicates the greater self-reliance of Thailand.
High Level Directive
Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister and Defence Minister has issued a policy to promote and support the government and private sectors in research and development towards production to drive the national defense industry to a high standard and is truly accepted by the armed forces’ requirement. Any equipment and system that unable to produce domestically will be procured from abroad as a package along with the technologies transferred for the further self-research and development and produce that equipment locally.
As for the self-production of equipment, it will begin with the research and development to build the prototype and certified by military standards toward the line of production.
The Defence Technology Institute will co-investment with the private sector in setting up a production plant because of the Defence Industry Act has open a chance for the commercial production by opening the production line according to the requirements of the armed forces. And the procurement of any equipment, the domestic production is the first priorities.
Defence & Security 2019 is a good opportunity for ASEAN countries to see the progress of new weapon system. It is also an exchange of opinions and military cooperation in various ways for a good relationship with each other.
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