Thailand and Russia move towards joint industry programme

17 January 2017
Thailand is looking to procure the Mil Mi-17V-5, seen here in Indian Air Force colours, to replace its Boeing CH-47D Chinook fleet. Source: Russian Helicopters

Thailand and Russia are moving closer to finalising a defence industrial collaboration programme based on the Royal Thai Army's (RTA's) expected purchase of additional Mil Mi-17V-5 transport helicopters.

Defence officials from the Russian government and the Royal Thai Armed Forces met in Bangkok on 16 January to discuss defence industrial ties, with meetings led by General Surapong Suwana-adth, Thailand's Chief of Defence Forces, and Kirill Barsky, Russian ambassador to Thailand.

A statement said the talks were part of efforts by both sides to strengthen military-technical co-operation through a government-to-government accord. IHS Jane's understands that once finalised, this agreement will provide Thailand with partnership status on a jointly run production and maintenance facility.

This would be positioned to support the Mi-17V-5 helicopters and potentially other Russian systems in Thailand. It is also possible that the facility would look to provide maintenance support to other Mi-17V-5 operators in Southeast Asia.

The RTA wants to procure at least 12 additional Mi-17V-5s to replace its ageing fleet of Boeing CH-47D Chinook heavy-lift platforms. The RTA has already taken delivery of five Mi-17V-5 platforms ordered in two batches in 2008 and 2014 and operated by the RTA's Bangkok-based transport unit.

IHS Jane's understands that the RTA submitted a proposal to procure the helicopters in 2016. However, it is not yet clear whether funding to support the procurement is immediately available. It is likely that funding for the programme will be released in stages, allowing for several batches of three or four helicopters.

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