The Royal Thai Armed Forces plan to replace outdated Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters produced in the United States with Russia's Mi-17V5 helicopters, Thai Army's Commander-in-Chief Teerachai Nakwanich said Wednesday.This is a huge shot across the bow of Western defense manufacturers. Thailand made a pure value play in determining the buy of their replacement helicopter and accepted less overall capability in return for lower operating costs/easier maintenance.
Earlier in May, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said that Bangkok could purchase Russia's helicopters for its needs.
"We need helicopters to replace outdated US CH-47 Chinook that are used as main military transport helicopters. We do not have money to buy new Chinooks, our budget is very limited and Russia's helicopters meet our requirements both in their characteristics and prices," Nakwanich said in an interview with Fifth National TV channel of Thailand, commenting on the recent statements of the prime minister.
News of this buy came out earlier this week and I was puzzled. The Mi-17 has always been sold as a BlackHawk competitor. If it can be pitched as a viable replacement for the CH-47 then the map has changed.
This could be huge.