Navy procurements are all 'above board'

Navy procurements are all 'above board'

Navy spokesman Vice Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin
Navy spokesman Vice Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin

The navy has refuted allegations levelled by an opposition member over issues related to its planned procurement of submarines and Israeli-made unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs).

The clarifications were made by navy spokesman, Vice Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin, in response to accusations put forth by deputy Pheu Thai Party leader Yutthapong Charasathian, a staunch critic of the submarine purchase project.

On Tuesday, Vice Adm Pokkrong denied an alleged link between the planned 4.1-billion-baht UAV procurement and the purchase of Chinese-made submarines. The UAVs are earmarked for deployment at coastal naval stations.

The navy insisted it has looked into the proposed buying of the Hermes 900-model UAVs carefully and that everything was above board.

The kind of UAVs being procured using next fiscal year's budget are being used in many countries and are both reliable and effective.

Vice Adm Pokkrong denied allegations that the navy switched from buying the UAVs from China to those manufactured by Israel because of the lack of transparency over the submarine procurement deal.

He added the UAVs were being acquired through a strict selection of manufacturers who must present exact specifications that meet navy requirements.

These include the UAVs' airworthiness certification, durability during operation and low maintenance costs. The vehicles must also be deployed in the armed forces of the country where the manufacturing company is based.

Six companies -- two each from Israel and China and one each from the US and Turkey -- were in the running for the project before the Elbit Hermes 900 from Israel was selected.

Vice Adm Pokkrong also dismissed the claim that Hermes 900 has never been deployed by the navy of any country. He said UAVs produced by companies that bid for the project were in service across many countries.

He conceded the UAVs were at times prone to crashing but said this is not limited to any one manufacturer, and could be caused by the weather.

Turning to Mr Yutthapong's query over the legal status of a firm to take charge of building a submarine dockyard, Vice Adm Pokkrong said a representative company was given full authorisation by China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) to undertake the project.

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