Army defends purchase of AgustaWestland choppers

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Bangkok – The Royal Thai Army claims the procurement of AgustaWestland helicopters, AW139 and AW149, was done out of necessity while defending its decision to purchase the choppers at prices higher than that purchased by Leicester City football club owner and King Power chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabh, despite buying the helicopters from the same company.

In response to a petition filed by the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution calling for the State Audit Office to look into the procurement of the helicopters, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan commented that the purchase was carried out according to state procurement policies and regulations, and that every procedure can be traced.

Col Sirichan Ngathong, the deputy spokesperson of the Thai army, said the two helicopters were essentially bought for the duty of transporting important and high-ranking personnel.

Shutting down a claim that they were priced higher than the Leicester City owner’s chopper, Col Sirichan said the army aircraft are equipped with military-grade equipment and the amount paid covered the cost of pilot training, spare parts, and maintenance.

Echoing Col Sirichan, Defense Ministry spokesperson Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, said the size of the two models bought by the army are much larger than that owned by Vichai, which was a civilian version.