The Royal Thai Army ordered 34 NORINCO VN-1 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) to join the VT-4 and Oplot-M main battle tanks (MBT) it has on order from NORINCO and the Malyshev Factory, respectively.
The VN-1 is the export version of the ZBL-09, which is powered by a 440 hp diesel engine and can travel a range of 800 km. It can carry 7 to 10 persons.
As per Soha News, each VN-1 will cost U.S. $1.7 million per vehicle – for a total of $58 million for the full purchase, which will also include 30 mm cannons, 7.62 mm coaxial machine guns and ammunition. China will also improve the Royal Thai Army’s armoured vehicle repair capabilities.
Thailand will also add another 10 VT-4 MBTs to its outstanding order of 28. IHS Jane’s reports that this batch will cost $58 million.
The VT-4 is China’s latest export-grade MBT. Weighing 52-tons, the VT-4 draws from the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) ZTZ-99A; it is armed with a 125-mm smoothbore cannon that can fire anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) and is powered by a 1,300 hp diesel engine.
Thailand is also on the verge of finalizing a contract for three S26T air-independent propulsion powered submarines from the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation’s (CSIC). This contract could be worth $1.02 billion.
Analysts attribute Thailand’s fiscal limits and strained relations with leading Western powers (following the 2014 coup) to the Thai military’s recent push for Chinese arms. However, Bangkok is not new to buying arms from China, it was among China’s earliest naval customers via the Type 025T Naresuan-class and Type 053HT frigates.