The Royal Thai Navy will sign a contract to procure seven Israeli-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) worth over 4 billion baht.
Vice Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin, navy spokesman, revealed that the navy had chosen seven Hermes 900 UAVs from Elbit Systems, an international defence electronics firm based in Israel. The firm offered the non-tariff price of US$120 million or approximately 4 billion baht.
The contract signing will take place at the Bang Chang naval air base in Rayong.
The procurement contract will be drafted by a committee before being presented to the commander-in-chief Adm Somprasong Nilsamai. The navy, Elbit Systems Ltd and the National Anti-Corruption Commission will be the three signatories to the procurement contract, Vice Adm Pokkrong said.
He also added that the navy will equip the aircraft with advanced defence technology to improve its ability to protect the country’s sovereignty and maritime territory.
Five companies, one each from Turkey, China and the United States and two from Israel joined the RTN’s bid. The suppliers from China and Turkey proposed three UAVs, while Elbit Systems proposed seven and the other Israeli company, IAI, proposed five. The US bidder failed the screening test.
The Royal Thai Army, currently, has four Hermes 450 drones, stationed at the Army Aviation Centre in Lop Buri province.
Earlier, two opposition Pheu Thai MPs Yutthapong Charassathien and Anudit Nakorntap accused the RTN of not being transparent in the procurement of the drones when they changed from Chinese-made, Wing Loong, to favour the Israeli-made drones and that the Hermes 900 have not been deployed by the navy of any country and has a bad reputation for crashing.
The Hermes 900 UAV boasts a range of high-performance sensors, allowing it to detect ground or maritime targets over a wide spectral range. It can be operated for up to 36 hours and the service ceiling is 30,000 feet (9,144 metres).
The UAVs will be equipped with hardware and software defence technology which are applicable for prospective attack missions, said a navy source.
Article originally published on www.uasvision.com as Royal Thai Navy to Buy Seven Hermes 900