28 Chinese tanks bound for navy port

The 28 VT4 or Main Battle Tank model 3000 purchased to 4.9 billion baht from China and due to arrive at Sattahip Naval Base are to be transferred to the 3rd Calvary Division in Khon Kaen province. The regime has begun purchase of another 10 VT4 tanks at a cost of 2 billion baht. (File photo)

The first batch of 28 VT4 main battle tanks purchased for 4.9 billion baht from China is expected to arrive at the Royal Thai Navy’s Thung Prong port in Sattahip district of Chon Buri between Oct 8-15, an informed source said Monday.

The Royal Thai Army’s committee on military hardware standards will then begin inspecting the tanks, said the source. If no technical flaws are found they will be sent to the 3rd Cavalry Division in Khon Kaen, the source said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon proposed in April a plan to procure another 10 VT4 tanks from China at a cost of 2 billion baht, in the second phase of procurement for the Chinese-made tanks, the source added.

The 28 tanks were reportedly purchased using the budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Meanwhile, army chief Chalermchai Sitthisad said he would plough ahead with his “Smart Man-Smart Army” policy next year.

The project, introduced in the last fiscal year, aims to promote the administrative performance of the army as well as the strength and endurance of officers.

The announcement was made at a meeting of army units on Monday, following the latest reshuffle of officials.

Gen Chalermchai said the army has three key missions under the project.

The top priority is safeguarding the security and honour of His Majesty the King and all royal family members, as well as responding to royal policy such as a voluntary project called Tham Khwam Di Duay Hua Chai (Perform good deeds from the heart), Gen Chalermchai said.

The second mission is supporting the government and National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in implementing their roadmap for national reform and national strategy to embrace Thailand 4.0, he said.

Ensuring law and order to prepare for national reconciliation and a planned general election falls under this category, he said.

The third task is to further transform the nation’s fighting forces into a so-called “smart army” through better education, training and technology, he added.

The army is also due for some restructuring, which will see military reserve forces possibly brought into the main corp as temporary staff, Gen Chalermchai said.

Improving international relations, especially in Asean, is another core task of the army, he said.

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