Jon Grevatt, Bangkok - Jane's Defence Weekly
30 January 2018
Thailand has reaffirmed plans to collaborate with China on establishing a military vehicle maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility in the Southeast Asian country.
The proposed facility would be positioned to support the Royal Thai Army’s (RTA’s) expanding fleets of Chinese platforms, including VT-4 main battle tanks (MBTs) and 8x8 VN-1 armoured personnel carriers, both produced by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco).
Speaking following public trials of the VT-4 MBT, which were held on 26 January at the RTA’s Adisorn Military Camp in Saraburi, RTA chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart said in comments reported by local media that the governments of China and Thailand were finalising plans for the MRO centre.
Gen Chalermchai said the new facility would support collaboration on repairing and maintaining the VT-4s and other military vehicles in both Thailand and potentially the wider region. The MRO centre would also enable localised production as well as repair and maintenance of related components and subsystems.
Gen Chalermchai added that VT-4 MBT procurement, costed at about USD200 million, was attractive for the RTA because the Chinese systems were less expensive than Western equivalents and that the programme is supported through technology transfers.
The RTA’s VT-4 programme – the first export of the type – features the acquisition of two batches of 28 units and 10 agreed through government-to-government accords in 2016 and 2017. Deliveries of the tanks commenced in August 2017.
In the next few years the RTA is expected to order additional VT-4 batches as it seeks to meet a long-standing requirement for up to 150 MBTs, which will replace the service's ageing and depleted inventory of US-produced M41 light tanks that have been operational since the early 1960s.
Original post: janes.com
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