Luechai defends LPD purchase
The Royal Thai Navy has defended its latest purchase from China, a 6.1-billion-baht landing platform dock (LPD), insisting the ship can conduct both combat and humanitarian missions.
An LPD is an amphibious transport ship with landing craft to transport troops ashore.
The 20,000-tonne vessel can support soldiers and help people, so "I can say it has a dual purpose," navy chief Admiral Luechai Ruddit told the media yesterday. He was responding to mounting criticism of a recent spending splurge on Chinese vessels.
Last year, the military government approved buying a 13.5-billion baht Yuan Class S26T submarine, also from China, and plan to buy two more.
Responding to complaints about the new vessel's large size, Adm Luechai said the navy needs to use it for joint emergency response operations with other Asean members. He also denied a claim the navy had struck a "secret" deal with China. The navy began the process to acquire the new LPD earlier this year, including conducting a study.
The purchase was necessary as the navy needs to replace its four decommissioned LPDs, Adm Luechai said. Currently, the navy has only one LPD in service -- HTMS Angthong. "But if critics want to attack us, they can find ways to raise objections on any issue," he said.