Our APCs Are Modern And Good: Ukraine Embassy

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Ukraine Embassy in Bangkok has finally broke its silence and hit back at critics over a procurement plan of Thai army's armored personnel carrier (APC), saying the vehicles are absolutely new and up-to-date.

Ukrainian armored personnel carrier

It accused the media of "distorted facts and groundless allegations".

"There is strong feeling that those publications have been inspired by those companies from some countries, which participated in the bidding but did not succeed, with the aim to hamper the progress in collaboration between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and mislead the public opinion," the embassy said through a statement dated October 18, 2007.

The embassy said the 96 BTR3E1 model to be delivered to Thailand are "absolutely new and uptodate" and has already become "wellknown as one of the world's most well equipped APC"

"Only latest technological solutions have been used for design and production of this APC that do not yield to any world's analogues, and, in some aspects, like dynamic and fire characteristics, as well as armor strength and tire bulletproof capacity, even exceed them," the statement said.

The embassy said from the Thai Army and the Thai Defence Ministry have verified "the quality of the Ukrainian production line and APCs during their recent visits to the manufacturing facilities and viewing of the live demonstrations in Ukraine last May."

Dispute over the planned procurement surfaced weeks ago when the then deputy permanent secretary at the Defence Ministry, Admiral Banawit Kengrien, created a drift among the defence circle when he refused to endorse the plan and delayed the approval process.

Leading security expert Chulalongkorn University's Associated Professor Panitan Wattanayagorn also voiced his opinion against the deal, saying the armed forces would be better off purchasing a higher quality APC that has proven record.

The Office of Auditor General also raised several questions over this procurement project, especially over the aftersale agreements, as well as the bidding procedures.

Source: Bangkok's The Nation