Seem like Russia weapon can make their way to Thai armed force in recent years.
Eariler, RTA bought 36 Iglas MANPAD from Russia. It was the first major weapon procurement from Russia after RTAF eliminated Su-30MKIT from fighter type 20th competition.
Base on RTA 9-years modernization package launched in 2006 and revised in Dec 2007, RTA want to buy 3 medium-lift helicopter around 2007 – 2008. The requirement said the helicopter must has 2 or more gas turbine engine with more than 3,500 shp in total. Also, the helicopter must be able to carry more than 30 troops with more than 300 nm in range and 120 knot of maximum cruising speed.
Russia eariler offered 8 Mi-17V5 as a part of Su-30MKIT deal.
This purchase is the very interesting development in Thai armed force at a glance. After 2006 coup, many major contacts were award to suppilers outside US; Sweden (Gripen & Erieye), Russia (Igla & Mi-17V5), Ukriane (BTR-3E1), China (C-802), Singapore (Endurance LPD), Israel (Tavor & Negev), and South Africa (REVA 4×4). While US suppiler only won a contact to supply upgrade kit for C-130, possible MLU kit for F-16, and some MH-60S.
I do not expect the entire shift from US because US still one of Thailand’s most important ally. But we can expext Thai armed force in next several years with less dependency on US weapon.
We may have to keep the eyes on this because RTAF currently consider launching Helicopter type 10th competition. (Huey replacement helicopter) Despite RTAF eariler bought 3 S-92s for Royal flight but from now Mi-17V5 could be one of the prime candidate. We will see soon!
Repair deal for Bell fleet could be canned
The army chief, at the same time, decided to cancel the 999-million-baht repair and maintenance programme for 15 Bell 212-type helicopters bought from the US, the source said.
According to the source, the army has more than 200 of the US-built helicopters
However, more than half of them can barely function now because they have been in use for more than 20 years.
The proposal has been submitted to Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, in his capacity as defence minister, the source said.
Until now, the army had used only US helicopters.
The armed forces previously were interested in buying military armaments from Russia.
Earlier, the air force also bought six Gripen fighters from Sweden for about 19 billion baht.
When Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister, he told the air force to procure SU-30 combat aircraft from Russia, but the air force showed no interest in buying them.
The procurement programme was stopped when the 2006 coup took place.
The same source said that before Samak Sundaravej was disqualified as prime minister by the Constitution Court, he approved a deal to buy 96 armoured personnel carriers costing 39 billion baht from the Ukraine.
The deal was initiated by Gen Sonthi.
However, the Office of the Auditor-General regarded the deal as non-transparent.
It raised questions about the quality of the vehicles and and alleged irregularities in the bidding process, in which Ukrainian NGV Enterprise failed to submit a tender but won the Defence Ministry contract.
The Samak government also approved a proposal to buy 15,307 shotguns from Israel worth about one billion baht. (they mean TAR-21 – Skyman)
The armament procurement programmes are part of a plan to modernise sections of the armed forces, which has been stalled for more than a decade since the 1997 financial crisis.