21 September 2010
BTR-3E1 APC(Thierry Lachapelle)
The Ukraine is throwing in an extra six armoured personnel carriers to sweeten a purchase deal with the army for 96 of the vehicles.
In addition to 96 APCs ordered by the Royal Thai Armed Forces at a cost of close to 4 billion baht, Ukraine will provide six extra BTR-3E1 armoured vehicles to the army, Ekachai Watcharaprateep, the director-general of the army's Ordnance Department, said.
Four of them will be used for field training and two for study on maintenance techniques.
The Ukraine will also give the army a training simulator for the BTR-3E1.
Training will be provided, with 25 military personnel from the 2nd Infantry Division and Ordnance Department travelling to the Ukraine this month, Lt Gen Ekachai said.
The first two of the 96 Ukrainian-made APCs were delivered on an Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft to U-tapao airfield on Friday. Lt Gen Ekachai said the army will hold a demonstration of the vehicles at work before army chief Anupong Paojinda and reporters at the 2nd Infantry Division (King's Guards) in Prachin Buri tomorrow.
Gen Anupong, who is retiring at the end of the month, will visit the base to bid farewell to the 2nd Infantry Division, where all 96 APCs will be stationed.
Lt Gen Ekachai said an official delivery ceremony of the first batch of APCs will take place in December when 10 more carriers are due to arrive. The remaining 84 APCs will be delivered before the end of 2011 by sea, he said.
LT Gen Ekachai said he felt relieved after the first two APCs were delivered, as the army wanted to show the transparency of the procurements.
He said the army has faced widespread criticism over delays in the delivery of the vehicles.
The House committee on military affairs has questioned whether the APCs destined for Thailand were modified from outdated models.
LT Gen Ekachai said the BTR-3E1 were new as he had visited the Ukraine several times to witness the vehicles being made.
The APCs have switched from using Deutz engines to MTU Mercedes engines, which have passed a field test, he said.
The army plans to order 121 more BTR-3E1 APCs worth nearly 5 billion baht from the Ukraine.