Massive 2.5bn-baht missile agreement put on ice
The army has been denied next year's fund to buy Javelin missiles and related equipment worth some 2.5 billion baht from the United States, according to an army source.
The cut came despite remarks released by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Friday, saying the State Department had approved a potential US$83.5 million (2.5 billion baht) deal for Javelin missiles and related equipment.
The DSCA said it delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the possible deal on Friday.
The government, it said, has inked an agreement to buy 300 Javelin FGM-148 missiles and 50 Javelin Command Launch Units (CLU).
Also included are Enhanced Producibility Basic Skills Trainers; missile simulation rounds; Security Assistance Management Directorate (SAMD) Technical Assistance; Tactical Aviation and Ground Munitions (TAGM) Project Office Technical Assistance; contractor lifecycle support; spares manuals.
Also on the list are batteries/chargers; gunner training; ammunition officer training; OCONUS Modified Level 2 Maintenance Training; System Inspection and Check Out (Sico); and other related elements of logistical and programme support.
The total estimated cost is $83.5 million. The system will replace the obsolete 106mm recoilless rifles that the Royal Thai Army (RTA) acquired as part of the Military Assistance Program (MAP) from the Vietnam War era.
The proposed sale will improve Thailand's capability to meet threats, although the proposed purchase will not alter the basic military balance in the region, the DSCA said.
US government officials and contractors will also be assigned to the country to oversee the handover.
On Sunday, the army source said the missiles were to be paid for in instalments until 2024. The army's request for next year's tranche, however, has been dropped by the House committee scrutinising the budget for the next fiscal year.
The opposition has said defence spending must be trimmed to save money for financing the fight against Covid-19.
The source said the army had not objected to the cut though it planned to re-submit the request for funds next year.