07 Desember 2010

Airship Out of Order, Army Complains

07 Desember 2010

TAF's Aeros 40D airship (photo : TAF)

The army's 350 million baht surveillance airship bought from a US supplier is out of order, says an army source.

The supplier has not contacted the army since the army returned the aircraft and requested a replacement for it back in September.

The US company had promised to replace the airship by this month.

The army purchased the airship for 300 million baht to improve security in the lower South. Apparent construction flaws and delays in delivery have thwarted the project.

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has been briefed about the airship problem, which first came to light during his predecessor's tenure.

The source added that the local representative of the US supplier has closed its office, leaving the army to repair the faulty equipment on the airship itself.

But the job has proved almost impossible as the army says the company did not provide a repair manual. Members of the army's committee which approved delivery of the airship are also worried they could end up being punished, said the source.

The craft needs to work in sync with ground equipment. But the equipment has not been used for many months and the system is not working properly through lack of use.

The armoured vehicle purchased for use together with the airship is also out of action with a broken alternator which cannot be replaced in this country, the source said.

Two out of five cameras attached to the airship can record videos but cannot send a streaming video signal to the main control system in real time, as was expected, said the source.

"More importantly, since we didn't buy the complete system that also includes broadcasting and video file conversion features, the equipment is useless,' said the source.

(Bangkok Post)

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