Thailand’s Army Chief defended a plan to procure eight helicopters worth US$390 million from the US. Insisting the proposed purchase was above board.
Gen Apirat Kongsompong was responding to media reports that the US government had approved the sale to Thailand. The US is supplying, eight AH-6i light attack reconnaissance helicopters and support equipment.
Gen Apirat said the choppers are a military necessity to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities.
The procurement plan came under scrutiny after the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Announcing the State Department’s approval of the possible sale, saying the estimated cost would be about US$390 million.
The Thai government, it said, made a request to buy eight AH-6i helicopters, 50 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles; and 200 Advance Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) rockets.
Boeing’s AH-6i light Attack Reconnaissance Helicopter
Also included in the proposed sale were guns; other rockets; night-vision goggles; cameras; integrated product support and technical assistance.
According to the DSCA, the proposed sale would support US foreign policy and national security objectives. Above all helping improve the security of a major Non-Nato ally.
The agency said Thailand is a strategic partner committed to contributing to regional security.
The AH-6i helicopter would improve the army’s light attack capability, strengthen national defense and deter regional threats, according to the DSCA.
AH-6i helicopter will Assist Soldiers
The Helicopters would provide reconnaissance or close air support to special forces units. Stryker infantry soldiers and border guard units. On Sept 12, the army received its first batch of US-made Stryker armored infantry carriers. The will be assigned to Thailand’s 11th Infantry Army Regiment.
The army struck a deal to buy 37 “refurbished” US-made Strykers for US$80 million. But under the contract, the US Army would give 23 more Strykers to the Thai army for free. Bringing the number to 60 in total.