Navy to get new drones next year

Navy to get new drones next year

The Royal Thai Navy will buy two of the S-100 camcopters. (Photo from  Schiebel Corporation website)
The Royal Thai Navy will buy two of the S-100 camcopters. (Photo from Schiebel Corporation website)

The Royal Thai Navy has confirmed its plan to purchase two sets of Austrian-made vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned air systems (UAS) from Schiebel Group at a cost of 600 million baht.

The Camcopter S-100s will be deployed in 2020 to Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Phanang district and attached to some of the navy's frigates to carry out land and sea based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (SIR) missions, according to a press release published on Schiebel's website.

The purchase contract was signed by the director-general of the Naval Acquisition Management Office, Adm Prachachart Sirisawat.

The UAS will be the navy's first unmanned VTOL aircraft, which will help the navy cut its security patrol costs as it will no longer need to deploy a large ship capable of accommodating a helicopter for such missions, said Adm Prachachart. 

The helicopter drones will be primarily stationed on the navy's bases both in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, he said, adding the system's target identification capabilities are compatible with existing system installed across the navy's fleet.

As they are equipped with both high-resolution cameras and thermal imaging cameras, the aircraft is capable of identifying targets with a high degree of accuracy, he said.

"These UAS are also suitable for rescue operations at sea," he said.

The units need no specially prepared area for them to take off and land, and they are capable of working both day and night, under adverse weather conditions with a maximum range of up to 200km, he added.

Furthermore, Adm Prachachart said, as each UAS is capable of flying non-stop for six hours, they are highly suitable for security patrols over Southeast Asian waters.

The 600-million-baht cost, he said, already includes the cost of personnel training.

Adm Prachachart insisted the purchase is "necessary" and that the model has proved to be highly efficient.

"Some of our neighbours may already have them," he said.

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