Thailand’s military has inked an agreement with China to purchase tanks from the Asian giant, officials said earlier this week.
Thai officials have confirmed that the Royal Thai Army (RTA) has formally signed a pact to buy the MBT-3000 main battle tank produced by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO). Deliveries are expected to begin before the end of the year and continue within a two-year timespan.
If the deal is realized, it would make Thailand the first known export customer of the MBT-3000, also referred to as the V-4.
Specifics on the agreement, including the number of tanks to be purchased and the price, are yet to be publicly disclosed. IHS Jane’s cited Thai military officials as saying that the contract features an initial 28 units and is valued at around $150 million, though the RTA could procure additional tanks to meet its requirement for up to 150 MBTs. Meanwhile, Chinese state media cited Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon as saying that Thailand had planned to buy as many as 100 new tanks. Prawit is also the country’s defense minister
Commenting on the decision to purchase tanks from China, Thailand’s army chief Teerachai Nakwanich said he had full confidence in the high quality and performance of Chinese hardware.
“I have confidence in the performance since I personally went to see them,” Teerachai said Wednesday according to the Thai newspaper The Nation.
Earlier, Thailand had said that it would consider buying Russian T-90A main battle tanks. But Prawit and Teerachai both confirmed this week that the Southeast Asian state had decided on Chinese MBT-3000s instead.
However, as I indicated in a previous piece, Thai officials also said this week that they would look to purchase more Mil Mi 17V-5 helicopters from Russia to replace the U.S. CH-47D Chinook, though specifics have yet to be disclosed (See: “Thailand Mulls Buying New Military Helicopters from Russia”).