US approves missiles sale to Thai navy

The Royal Thai Navy has insisted that the likely purchase of RGM-84L Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles from the US is for the sake of national security.

Royal Thai Navy (RTN) spokesman Jumpol Lumpikanon said the procurement of the Harpoon missiles was regarded as part of the long-standing military cooperation between Thailand and the United States.

Adm Jumpol yesterday made his comments after reports emerged from Washington that the State Department had approved the possible sale of the missiles to the Thai government at an estimated cost of US$24.9 million.

The report also said that containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, US government and contractor representatives, technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support will also be included as part of the sale.

Adm Jumpol pointed out that the frigates HTMS Taksin and HTMS Naresuan had also been purchased from the US.

“We bought the frigates which serve as surface combatants. The vessels need to be equipped with Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles which can be used in surface warfare. Also, the frigates must be equipped with torpedoes to defend themselves from submarines,” he said.

Adm Jumpol said it was useless to have frigates without weapons, adding Thailand does not intend to go to war with any country but such weapons were necessary for military drills.

As for the latest procurement of Harpoon missiles, the weapons will be equipped on a high-performance frigate which is being built in South Korea, he said.

The proposed sale will provide enhanced capabilities for the effective defence of critical sea lanes. Thailand intends to use the missiles on its DW3000 Class Frigate. The Harpoon Block II missiles will increase the Royal Thai Navy’s maritime partnership potential.

Thailand has purchased Harpoon missiles previously and will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles into its armed forces, concluded Adm Jumpol.

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