This is more informative news from Bangkok Post.
In conclusion, RTA will buy 3 Mi-17V5s by using budget from eariler-planed medium-lift helicopter project in phase 1. Phase 2 will see RTA diverts its budget from huey refurbishment program (not Bell 212 as told eariler in previous report) to buy another 3 Mi-17V5s.
That make the total number grow to six.
The decision on cancelling huey refurbishment program is the huey airframe is too old and not worth to fly again. 46 huey in this program are come from US military aid during vietnam war, 40 years ago. If the entire program was cancelled, it will make RTA operates another 46 huey, 30 airframes of this came from US national guard in 2001.
BTW, huey refurbishment program are come in 3 phases. If RTA decides to axe all of these phases, around 3 billion Baht will be free up and we might see the total number of Mi-17V5 reach 12.
12 Mi-17V5 for 46 Huey ….. that too little in quantity aspect.
Base on RTA modernization program released in 2006, RTA want 3 medium-lift helicopters in 2007 – 2008 and 9 utility helicopters in 2012 – 2014. Buying 6 medium-lift helicopters might bring some change in helicopter procurement project. We have to see what will happen to RTA helicoper fleet in the future.
[Note] RTA helicopter project.
NOTE 30 (Utility/Cargo Helicopter) : The helicopter must have versatile usage, it can be used as a transport, combat re-supply and medical evacuation helicopter for RTA general support. One helicopter must be able to transport about one infantry squad with all necessary individual field equipment. It must be the same standard as the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, which is currently in service in the RTA, or better. <<< Should be UH-60L/M Black Hawk
NOTE 31 (Scout Helicopter) : A light weight scout helicopter for divisional usage. It must capable of anti–tank and reconnaissance missions. It should have or be fitted with aerial machine gun and rocket launcher weapons. <<< No information.
NOTE 32 (Multi-Role Medium Helicopter) : A military version multi-role medium helicopter for RTA general support. It is intended to be used for logistic purpose to transport personnel (about 30 PAX) and equipment. It must be capable of carrying light weight howitzers and can be transformed into a flying hospital. <<< 6 Mi-17V5
Army to buy Russian choppers
The army has decided to buy six new multi-role helicopters from Russia, the first time it has opted not to buy helicopters from the United states.
Army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda said yesterday the army had decided to procure six Mi-17 helicopters from Russia because they met its needs and were cheaper than the American Black Hawk helicopters.
The army has one billion baht in hand to purchase the first three Mi-17s and will divert funds earlier allocated for the repair of its old helicopters to buy the other three, he said.
Army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the army had cancelled planned repairs to 16 old HU-1 helicopters.
They had been in use for more than four decades and the contractor could not finish the repairs on schedule because of a lack of spare parts.
A committee headed by army assistant chief Gen Theerawat Boonyapradap, a former cadet classmate of Gen Anupong, had decided that buying the Russian helicopters was the better option. The Mi-17 could carry 36 troops and a light military vehicle at the same time. The smaller Black Hawk could carry only 13 soldiers and was much more expensive.
“We can get three Mi-17 helicopters for the same cost as one Black Hawk helicopter,” the army spokesman said.
The first three Mi-17s are priced at 950 million baht, with another 50 million baht for pilot training and ground equipment.
Col Sansern said Mi-17s were used in many countries and could be used for rescue work. The supplies of spare parts available would allow them to stay in service for decades.
The purchase needs approval from Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who is also the defence minister.
Russia had offered to sell Mi-17s to Thailand at 168 million baht each in 2006, but the price has now risen to more than 300 million baht each. The deal has been arranged by the same brokerage firm that supplied the army with 96 armoured vehicles from Ukraine for four billion baht – a deal criticised as lacking transparency.