The Army has purchased a multimillion-dollar missile system from defence company Thales that will be delivered in early 2017.
Mick Oliver, director of business development at Thales, said Thailand has acquired the STARStreak air defence missile system, which operates at a speed of over Mach 3 and is the world's fastest very-short-range air defence system.
Speaking at the Defence and Security 2015 trade fair held in Bangkok this week, he said the contract also included the tripod-based launcher system, which allows the missile to deal with attacks from low-level fighter aircraft, unmanned air vehicles and helicopters.
Oliver said the missile-system contract with the Army was signed by DataGate and Thales, the two companies providing the products and services.
Marie-Laure Bourgeois, vice president of Thales in the South and Southeast Asia region, said STARStreak is the world's leading system of its class, enabling nations to protect assets against both emerging and established threats.
In an exclusive interview with The Nation, she said Thailand is the fourth-largest defence hardware purchaser in Southeast Asia. The top purchaser is Singapore followed by Malaysia and Indonesia. But Thailand has made the most orders in the military sector.
"Purchase orders in Southeast Asia are a bit different from the rest of the world, where 50 per cent of the purchase orders are civilian products and 50 per cent are military products. For Southeast Asia, 70 to 80 per cent of the orders are for military products," she added.
She said about 15 per cent of the region's orders are for aerospace and space, and the remainder for ground transportation.
Since air transportation in the region has risen so much in the last couple years, Thales also sells to the civilian market, which includes transportation, space, telecommunication, satellites and aerospace.
The company manufactures most of the electronic devices found in the cockpits of Airbus planes. It is also one of two companies that provides entertainment equipment for Airbus.
She said Thales provides the air-traffic management systems for Aeronautical Radio of Thailand, which covers all air traffic management in Thailand, including Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Tommy Ayouty, managing director for Thales in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Bhutan, said Thailand is its largest military customer, with the Navy as the biggest buyer followed by the Army.
The Defence and Security 2015 fair, which ended yesterday, is the region's leading defence and internal security exhibition. It highlights the latest defence and internal security equipment manufactured by more than 400 companies from 50 countries.
Bourgeois said Thales's business in Southeast Asia has grown by 25 per cent, and up to 80 per cent of all ordering from Southeast Asia is for defence products, while half of the orders in Europe are for defence and the other half from the civilian sector.
Apart from the defence field, the company focuses on four other markets: security, space, aerospace and ground transportation.
The STARStreak missile
• Cannot be jammed by infrared countermeasure, radar or radio countermeasures.
• Cannot be stopped by anti-radar missiles.
• Its high speed makes it more likely to hit fast-moving aircraft.
• Three explosive sub-munitions warheads increase probability of hitting target
• It has no automatic explosive device, so it must collide with the target in order to harm it.
• The guidance laser may be detected after the missile is fired, if the target aircraft is equipped with a suitable passive laser warning system.
• Battlefield obscurants, such as smoke, can decrease the ability to see the target, and could potentially interfere with the guidance laser.
• The performance of missile is laying on the training level of the operator, beaus the have to track the target with sighting unit aim point.
Countries equipped with STARStreak
• United Kingdom
• South Africa