By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THE ARMED FORCES have proposed a token cut in their respective funding for fiscal 2023 in the face of the sustained pandemic situation, a military source said today (Mar.29).
The defence spendings for next fiscal year will total 197.29 billion baht, compared to 201.66 billion baht provided for the current fiscal year, roughly accounting for a two-percent reduction.
The token cut in the planned defence spendings would be attributed in part to the government’s measures to cope with the nationwide pandemic situation for which a substantial amount of supplementary budget is yet needed.
The annual funding for the armed forces will remain as part of the government’s three-trillion-baht-plus budget for fiscal 2023 which will be submitted for approval at parliament in May.
Of the total of the proposed 197.29-billion-baht funding, the army would be allocated 96.57 billion baht for next fiscal year, accounting for a three percent cut, whilst the navy would be provided 40.32 billion baht, marking a slight increase, and the air force would be given 36.11 billion baht, accounting for a four percent cut, according to the source who only spoke on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, navy chief Adm.Somprasong Nilsamai is not seeking any funding in next fiscal year for a suspended plan to buy two more Chinese-built S26T submarines following the purchase of the first one of the same type the construction of which is reportedly encountering delays due to an international sales embargo on a German diesel engine originally designed for use with it.
The navy has insisted that only the German-made MTU396 engine and no other makes be installed on board the Yuan-class submarine being built by China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. for Thailand. Delivery of Thailand’s first submarine in six decades has already been put off until next year apparently due to the difficulties acquiring the specified engine.
The air force has been earlier given 13.8 billion baht in initial funding for the planned procurement of highly-manoeuvrable combat aircraft, preferably the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, to replace the ageing Northrop F-5 Super Tigris jets and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.
Air force chief ACM Napadej Dhupatemiya has pushed for procurement of a mini-squadron of eight stealth fighters which is yet to pass final approval from lawmakers after the government has already offered to fund it. However, given such initial funding for the procurement of multirole stealth fighters, no more than four F-35 Lightning II jets could be purchased, the source said.
Thai and American troops participating in Cobra Gold military exercise. Photos: Naewna