Thailand buying US missiles, seeks own defense industry
The United States Department of State has approved the sale of $27 million worth of missiles to the Royal Thai Navy, as the Ministry of Defense unveiled a domestically built armored troop carrier and said Thailand has become capable of developing its own military equipment in partnership with the private sector.
The sale of 32 missiles will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States, by strengthening Thailand’s regional security and interoperability with the U.S. Navy, the State Department said. Thailand is the oldest treaty ally of the United States in Asia and its soldiers have fought side by side in Korea and Vietnam and served together in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
With the two allies increasingly working together on security issues such as transnational crime, environmental crime, piracy and terrorism, the capability of the Thai Navy is important in helping bring order to the high seas, which are difficult to patrol and that some have called a lawless zone.
Under the proposed agreement, Thailand will receive 16 ESSM missiles, 14 tactical missiles, two telemetry missiles along with three MK25 Quad Pack canisters, and ten MK783 shipping containers. The deal also includes training and technical services.
The ESSM is an upgraded and advanced version of the RIM-7 SeaSparrow missile, which is used to protect ships against air and missile attacks. Largely defensive in nature, it is designed to counter supersonic maneuvering and anti-ship missiles.
According to the Naval Technology website, the SeaSparrow is equipped with seven combat systems and four launching systems, and provides improved seeker sensitivity, increased propulsion, and greater weapon accuracy and agility for countering threats.
The principal contractors for the deal are Raytheon Missile Systems, BAE Systems, Saab, and Lockheed Martin.
In Bangkok last week, Thailand’s Ministry of Defense displayed its “Black Widow Spider” armored troop carrier at the Defense and Security 2015 international trade event. The carrier is locally designed and produced by the Defense Technology Institute (DTI) in collaboration with the National Metal and Materials Technology Centre (MTEC) and a private firm.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who oversees security matters, said the carrier shows that Thailand is capable of developing its own defense industry in conjunction with the private sector.
“During 2015-2016, the DTI has carried out more than 20 projects on research and development of defense technology. Many of the fruits of these efforts, which are on display at this exhibition, have been turned over the armed forces,’’ he said.
The Black Widow was designed as an amphibious vehicle, and can accommodate up to 12 personnel. It may be armed with a gun turret for a 30-mm cannon. The vehicle can be used for a variety of missions and can also serve as a command vehicle
Thailand Focus week of November 9, 2015
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