Coconuts Bangkok has a link to an AFP report that raises some disturbing issues.
Of course, observers may expect that the military’s budget will increase when it has political power. Between 2006 and 2016, the Thai military’s budget will have tripled, from 78.1 billion baht to 207 billion baht. The story concludes that “[t]he kingdom’s well-oiled military has been handsomely rewarded in the last decade…”.
At the recent Defense & Security 2015 fair at Bangkok’s Impact Arena, “French anti-tank missiles, Swedish jets and American assault rifles” were on display despite the fact that “Western governments have criticised Thailand’s junta for toppling democracy…”. The report states that “more than 400 companies from 50 countries are showing their wares — including Britain’s BAE Systems, France’s Thales, Italy’s Finmeccanica and Lockheed Martin, from the United States.” The U.S. has recently approved missile sales to Thailand. Indeed, it is business as usual.
The report says that “Russian arms manufacturer Bazalt was even advertising a cluster bomb — the PBK-500U SPBE-K.” Another report from another arms bazaar describes this as:
The PBK-500U glide cluster bomb dispenser (the Russian acronym translates to glide bomb cassette, 500-kg caliber) is a single-use weapon that houses either a single warhead or multiple cassette elements. Unlike the previous generation, the PBK-500U can deploy at longer distances to enable standoff attack capability for tactical aircraft acting against targets with pinpoint anti-aircraft defenses.
Appealing to the Thai military might have been an armored 4×4 from an Emirati company said to be designed for “dispersing potentially violent crowd gatherings.”
Defense budgets are growing across the region. In Thailand, the report states that the “generous approach to its armed forces has not been without controversy, especially given the stuttering post-coup economy…. Critics say the military — which boasts one of the highest proportion of generals in the world — has a penchant for big ticket purchases it doesn’t need, including an aircraft carrier which currently has no aircraft.”
Update: Ukraine Today reports that “Ukraine and Thailand on November 3 signed a cooperation agreement on co-manufacturing armoured personnel carriers BTR-3 in Thailand…”. Deals between the two countries have been questioned in the past.