The Royal Thai Army plans to purchase 14 more heavy tanks from China, a move underlining the increasingly close defence relations between Bangkok and Beijing.
An army source said on Monday the army will purchase 14 more VT4 tanks, plus ammunition, at a total cost of 2.3 billion baht, to further supplement the first procurement of 28 units in 2016. The VT4 is a third-generation main battle tank built in China for overseas export.
Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong had assigned his assistant, Gen Wijak Siribansop, chairman of the procurement panel, the source said.
Gen Wijak would leave for China in late February to test the tanks' performance and the procurement proposal was expected to be forwarded to cabinet in March, the source added.
The first batch of 28 VT4 tanks was purchased in 2016 at a cost of 4.9 billion baht, and the second batch of 11 tanks, which arrived in 2017, cost 2 billion baht.
The were deployed to the 3rd Cavalry Division in Khon Kaen.
The latest procurement was arranged in talks between Gen Han Weiguo, the commander of the People's Liberation Army, and Gen Apirat during his visit to Beijing from Jan 6-9, the source said.
The army leader also met Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on Jan 7. Gen Apirat said the Thai army was willing to deepen defence cooperation with its Chinese partner, the China Military Online reported.