19 Februari 2010
Thai navy might buy a second-hand submarine for training purposes (photo : dutchsubmarines)
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has asked the armed forces to submit their planned arms purchases for consideration in what is seen as a move to keep the military on his side.
A military source said Supreme Commander Songkitti Jaggabatara told army, air force and navy leaders yesterday to prepare their arms purchase plans for submission to the prime minister.
Gen Songkitti met with commanders of the three armed forces and senior military officers at the Royal Thai Navy headquarters.
The source said navy commander Khamthorn Pumhiran will seek authorisation to purchase two second-hand submarines at a cost of more than 20 billion baht.
Adm Khamthorn cited strategic needs and the fact that neighbouring countries all had submarines. The navy commander said it was necessary to employ new technologies.
The director of the navy's public relations office, Capt Prachachart Seerisawat, said Adm Khamthorn had assured the other military commanders at the meeting that submarines could operate in the Gulf of Thailand.
"Only the Royal Thai Navy still has none. As such, the navy commander has to submit the request for the submarines for government approval," Capt Prachachart said.
The Supreme Command spokesman, Col Sitthichai Makkunchorn, said 3-month-long joint exercises involving all of the armed forces would begin next month. The drills will take place in the three eastern provinces of Prachin Buri, Sa Kaeo and Rayong.
Col Sitthichai said the drills were intended to prepare for emergencies along the Cambodian border.
He said Gen Songkitti had also asked the prime minister to attend the training of the Thai troops who would be sent to help with UN peace-keeping in Sudan's Darfur region.
The training will be conducted in April by the Royal Thai Marine Corps in Chon Buri's Sattahip district.
About 800 Thai soldiers will travel to Sudan in July.