17 Januari 2017
Kharkiv tank factory (photo : Al Jazeera)
The inspectorate of the Royal Thai Army on January 16 will start accepting the new batch of Oplot combat tanks in Ukraine made at Malyshev Plant (Kharkiv) under a contract to supply 49 tanks to Thailand signed in 2011, the press service of state-run enterprise Ukrspecexport has reported.
“The Thai delegation accepting the new batch of Oplot tanks will start on Monday [January 16]. The customers will look at the tanks at the various stages of production,” the company said.
Ukrspecexport said that under the mutual agreement of the sides the terms of completing the contract were moved to autumn 2017.
“The decision was made due to military actions in eastern Ukraine,” the press service said.
The contract to supply promising Ukrainian next generation armed vehicles to Thailand is being implemented in the conditions of tough competition on the global market.
Ukrspecexport said that Oplot tanks are competitive vehicles. Potential buyers from various countries showed their interest to buy them.
“Unfair rivals are hindering the arrival of the vehicles to the international market,” the company said.
Recently Thailand’s Bangkok Post reported with the reference to Commander-In-Chief of Thailand Armed Forces General Chalermchai Sittisat that Bangkok and Beijing are discussing expansion of defense cooperation.
Among promising directions is purchase of armored vehicles from China to replace U.S. M-41 tanks bought in the United States in 1957. Thailand has signed a contract to buy 28 Chinese VT-4 tanks and seeks to boost the supplies in 2017. Gen Chalermchai said that after problems with the delivery of 49 Oplot tanks ordered from Ukraine, the army committee which decides on military hardware procurements has opted to cut the number of tanks to be bought from Ukraine. The problem facing the Ukrainian supplier was due mainly to Ukraine’s internal situation, he said. However, the Ukrainian tank maker should be able to deliver all 49 tanks to the Thai army by October, 2017, according to Gen Chalermchai.
Some foreign media spread information that Thailand allegedly refused to buy Ukrainian Oplot tanks in favor of Chinese VT-4 tanks.