Army urged to confiscate airship bond

Army urged to confiscate airship bond

The army should seize a contract guarantee worth about 15 million baht from a US supplier which sold it a 350 million baht airship as the company has failed to take care of it, an army source says.

Under the purchase contract, the army can seize the contract guarantee, which comes to 5% of the airship's cost, or about 15 million baht, if the supplier fails to take care of its product; the airship's performance is unsatisfactory; or the airship causes any problems, the source said yesterday.

His comments came after the army revealed that it had hired Worldwide Aeros for 50 million baht to repair the airship, which has not flown since its procurement.

The source said the use of the contract guarantee money could help save taxpayers from paying for the airship's maintenance.

However, the source admitted it might be difficult for the army to obtain the contract guarantee since the airship supplier, Aria International Incorporated (AII), had lost contact with the army and had probably been dissolved.

The airship was bought during the tenure of former army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda for surveillance missions in the far South.

As the imported airship has never flown, the army tried to contact the AII but to no avail. Finally, the army decided to hire the airship producer, Worldwide Aeros Corp, to repair the airship now kept in Pattani province.

AII bought the airship from Worldwide Aeros and sold it to the army.

Col Winthai Suwaree, deputy army spokesman, yesterday confirmed the army had signed the contract with Worldwide Aeros Corp and M-Landarch Co last Thursday to make the airship fly.

Col Winthai said the warranty on the airship had expired and the repairs would cover the ship itself, its surveillance cameras and its real-time video transmission system.

The contractor would also extend the transmission range.

Col Winthai said the repairs would be carried out in the near future.

Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat yesterday said the army had limited the use of the airship because it required expensive helium gas.

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