Thailand’s Army has takes delivery of battle tanks made in China, three months after it took delivery of armored infantry vehicles from the US.
The army received 10 VT-4 main battle tanks and 38 VN-1 armored personnel carriers. They were among other military equipment, that arrived on Tuesday from China.
The tanks and armored cars were taken to the Adisorn Cavalry Center in Saraburi province for inspection.
Thailand has not officially confirmed the arrival of its military acquisitions from Beijing, amid domestic criticism over its defense budget despite an economic slowdown.
Gen.Prayut’s government has allocated 233 billion baht (U.S. $7.7 billion) for its security spending for fiscal year 2020. Thailand’s economy is foretasted to slow down to 3 percent next year.
Thailand’s Military Coup in 2014
The United States froze $4.7 million of security-related aid and cancelled security agreements with Thailand in 2014, when Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, then the army chief, led a bloodless putsch that deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Washington’s move was a consequence of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act. The act bars the US from cooperating with nations where elected governments have been toppled through a coup.
Military ties have also improved after civilian rule was officially restored this year. Critics however believe the election was manipulated to keep Gen.Prayuth in power.
The latest delivery of battle tanks from China was part of the 50 tanks and auxiliary vehicles ordered in 2016 by the Thai junta. The deal was worth about 7 billion baht (U.S. $231 million).
Other than the army hardware, Thailand has also agreed to purchase three submarines worth 36 billion baht ($1.1 billion) from China. Furthermore Thai officials expect the first delivery in the next five to six years.
Submarines Purchased from China
The Thai junta approved the budget for the first submarine in January 2017 after putting the purchase on hold the previous year as a result of public criticism.
Thailand has also signed a deal with China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. for a landing platform dock warship.
As part of Thailand’s military modernization efforts Thailand will also purchase eight Boeing AH-6i attack helicopters. And also related hardware in a deal worth $400 million.
The U.S. State Department approved the sale on Sept. 24.
Thailand’s Army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong told reporters that 70 armored personnel carriers would arrive from the US by the end of this year. The first batch of 10 arrived in September, local reports said.
The U.S. State Department approved the sale of 60 Strykers in July. The arms deal is worth $175 million (5.4 billion baht), according to a Pentagon statement.