27 Juli 2011

Govt to Back New Chopper Fleet Plan

27 Juli 2011

The army's proposal to buy more than 30 new helicopters (photo : wn)

The Pheu Thai-led coalition government is willing to support the plan to buy more than 30 new helicopters of the army, prime minister-designate Yingluck Shinwatra said on Wednesday.

Ms Yingluck said the new administration will have to consider details of the plan because weapons purchasing must be made in line with the set priority and the need of the army in order to gain maximum benefit from budget spending.

“My government is willing to do anything it can to support the army,” she said.

She added that the new defence minister will have to discuss the plan with the army and then forward it to the cabinet meeting for consideration.

Ms Yingluck rejected as baseless the reports that Pheu Thai had approached the current Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, inviting him to continue serving the ministerial position.

Meanwhile, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha denied he had taken the opportunity from the crashes of three army helicopters to asked for the new chopper fleet as criticised.

Gen Prayuth insisted that the new helicopters purchasing programme has been planned for a long time as the army needs to have modern aircraft and weapons for protecting the country.

The army chief refused to give comments about reports that Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa would be made the new defence minister.

“The army is ready to comply with order of superior officer without sticking to any particular individuals. The new government should also take a good care of the army,” he said.

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