US-bought Strykers arrive at base
'Freebies' promised for further purchase
After receiving the first two US-made M1126 Stryker infantry carrier vehicles (ICV) on Thursday, army chief Apirat Kongsompong yesterday said the army is expected to receive an additional budget allocation to buy another 50 ICVs next year.
As an incentive to make that further purchase, the US has indicated a willingness to include 30 more vehicles free of charge, he said adding that the army will set up a Stryker company comprising more than 100 of the ICVs.
Meanwhile, the first team of 30 Thai soldiers to be assigned to the Stryker company -- including drivers, mechanics and technicians -- has been sent for training in the US.
The US has also provided mechanics and technicians to assist in the repair and maintenance of the ICVS, Gen Apirat said, adding that the US government, as well as the US Army, have expressed support for the new elected Thai government led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.
On Thursday, the US delivered the first two ICVs to the Thai army at Wing 6 of the Royal Thai Air Force's airbase in Bangkok's Don Muang district.
Admiral Philip S Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, was present during the delivery of the armoured vehicles.
The Thai army chief said that "the return of the US" will lead to several assistance packages in the future, adding that Thailand and the US will co-host a meeting of army commanders in the Pacific region on Sept 7-8.
The army struck a deal to buy 37 "refurbished" Stryker armoured vehicles, worth US$80 million, from the United States.
Under the contract, the US Army will give 23 more Strykers to the Thai army for free, bringing the number to 60 in total, Gen Apirat said, adding that the other 58 Strykers will be delivered by the end of this year.
According to information published on the army's Facebook page, the 60 refurbished armoured vehicles will go into service at the 11th Infantry Division in Chachoengsao province and a number of other units.
The vehicles were purchased under the Defence Council's policy to modernise the 11th Infantry Division and the army, it said.
Originally manufactured by the Michigan-based General Dynamics Land Systems, the 60 armoured vehicles saw US Army service before being stored in its reserve armoury and then sold as surplus.