Thailand Buying Boeing Little Birds

Boeing AH-6I. Boeing.

SHAH ALAM: Thailand buying Boeing Little Birds. The US State Department on Sept. 24 announced the proposed sale to Thailand of eight Boeing AH-6I light attack reconnaissance helicopters and related equipment in a deal worth $400 million (RM1.675 billion).

Although its just an announcement of a proposed sale, it is likely that the deal will be finalised soon. In July, the U.S announced a proposed deal to for 60 Stryker infantry carrier vehicles with equipment and support for an estimated cost of $175 million. By late August, ten of the Strykers were already delivered to Bangkok, with another 50 coming by year end. Thailand is expected to buy another 60 Strykers.

Boeing AH-6I. Boeing.

The proposed deal for the Boeing Little Birds came weeks after Malaysian Defence reported that the deal for the MD530G light scout attack helicopters for the Malaysian Army was about to be cancel.
Boeing AH-6i. Boeing.

Thailand is the second customer for the AH-6I -which was also marketed to Malaysia – after Saudi Arabia which bought 24.

The DSCA announcement:

WASHINGTON, September 24, 2019 – The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Thailand of eight (8) AH-6i light attack reconnaissance helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $400 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of Thailand has requested to buy eight (8) AH-6i light attack reconnaissance helicopters; fifty (50) AGM-114R Hellfire missiles; and two-hundred (200) Advance Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) Rockets. Also included are ten (10) M134 Mini Guns, ten (10) M260 Rocket Launchers; ten (1) M299 Longbow Hellfire Launcher; ten (10) AN/APN-209 Radar Altimeter; eight (8) AN/APR-39(V)(4) four (4) GAU-19/B .50 Cal Machine Gun; five-hundred (500) Hydra 70 Rockets; twenty (20) AN/AVS-6 Night Vision Goggles; eight (8) WESCAM MX-10Di Cameras; ten (10) AN/APX-123 IFF; ten (10) AN/ARC 201E-VHF-FM; ten (10) AN/ARC-231 w/ MX-4027; ten (10) LN-251 Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (EGI); Aircrew Trainer (ACT); Pilot Desktop Trainer (PDT); Virtual Maintenance Trainer (VMT;, contractor provided pilot and maintainer training peculiar ground support equipment; spares; publications; integrated product support; technical assistance; quality assurance team; transportation; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated program cost is $400 million.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO ally in INDO-PACOM. Thailand is a strategic partner committed to contributing to regional security.

The proposed sale of the AH-6i helicopter will improve the Royal Thai Army’s (RTA) light attack capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats. These AH-6i helicopters will replace the RTA’s aging fleet of seven AH-IF Cobra helicopters. As part of a broader military modernization effort, these AH-6i helicopters will provide light attack reconnaissance for close air support to special operations forces, Stryker infantry soldiers and border guard units. Thailand will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractor for the AH-6i is Boeing Company, Mesa, Arizona. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any permanent additional U.S. Government or Contractor representatives to Thailand.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2184 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. really really hope with DWP just around corner, we can know what the govt and the armed force have in mind. hope the govt will ready the plan for replacement of cancel asset such as little bird and M109s.

    Mr Marhalim, any news about the china build LMS??

  2. zack,

    If you’re hoping the White Paper is going to list in detail future procurement then you’re in for a disappointment. The whole purpose of a White Paper is mainly intended to outlay the strategic threats/challenges facing the country and the government’s position and priorities.

    The White Paper is subject to change and doesn’t actually mean the government will carry out everything stated it in. It also doesn’t mean the government is taking a more serious approach towards defence.

    There are certain things or aspects that the White Paper will not include (for whatever political reason) and even if certain things or aspects are included; it might be in general or even ambiguous terms. Not only the idea and release of the White Paper are political but also what it contain…

    The White Paper is a step in the right direction and is something I’ve been hoping for years now but it doesn’t do away with the fact that we need a total revamp of our defence policy and some hard issues have to be looked at;
    starting from the overall anti pathetic attitude shown by the very top leadership of this country, to the kind of people we can attract into service based on our existing education policy (the MAF is after all a reflection of society as a whole), to our extremely flawed and ludicrous procurement system.

  3. AH-6i isnt exactly the same as MD530G tho.

    In any case I’d rather we go for helicopter which we have facilities to maintain

  4. Mr Azlan,the way you put just as DWP is almost the same with RMK with difference DWP for long run and open to be seen by public(somewhat) since menhan and deputy keep mention it.

    any idea what the govt want to do with no little bird and M109s???

    ” Not only the idea and release of the White Paper are political but also what it contain”
    political in term our relation with neighbor or more than that?

  5. If you asked me, better to consolidate our numbers on a medium transport helo with assault capability for the army.

    Like h225m or aw149 first, then start to go towards attack or light attack heli.

    Just my opinion.

  6. Malaysia in all its sbafu wisdom signed a contract with a local company whilst thai did it under FMS. Go figure. I think the armed.forces should be disbanded as long as the bunch of thieves still lives

  7. @ zack

    Read what azlan wrote again. DWP is not RMK plans. Future plans would be more visible or understandable when it is to be based on the needs written down in the DWP.

    Basically when we have a DWP, we can plan by saying ” To fulfill the X requirement written down in the DWP, we would plan to aquire Y amount of Z equipment starting 202x”

  8. Since we’re talking about procurement, Thai army has a pretty diverse inventory themselves. Two new MBTs, three 8x8s, two tracked APCs, medium and light tanks, two truck borne 155s and how many towed types… the army alone has fourteen helicopter types, many of them acquired recently.

  9. AM – “Thai army has a pretty diverse inventory themselves”

    That has always been the case. In fact, Singapore is the only one which has made a serious attempt to standardise. To be fair the MAF has been trying to and has made some progress but the problem will never end as long as the politicians decide what to get based on political imperatives.

    Nihd -“If you asked me, better to consolidate our numbers on a medium transport helo with assault capability for the army.”

    Sounds reasonable. IMO before we even start about thinking of stuff like assault or CSAR (both resource intensive and highly dependent on other assets) we should focus on improving the army’s ability to meet its transport/lift and recce requirements (beyond what it already has) and improving its support/training infrastructure in order for it to expand.

    Nihd- “then start to go towards attack or light attack”

    Irrespective of what we buy – whether Little Birds or Tigers – the trick will be in ensuring we operate them in conjunction with whatever other assets we have : they have to be fully integrated and we have to come up with a doctrine or combat syllabus specific to our needs. We also need to ask ourselves why we are getting such helicopters; for the armed recce role, to provide armoured/mech units with fire support or flank protection, etc? Will we operate them at sea from the deck of a future MPSS?

    Given that we’ll buy a token number and not enough to really enable some useful capability whilst ensuring we always have ‘x’ operational; what kind of capabilities can we reasonably expect from whatever we buy?

  10. Btw Marhalim, I find it impossible to comment on articles that are only a few days old, such as “Another KJA Programme Or Two.”

  11. AM,

    By the 1990’s the RTA already had M-47s. M-48s, M-60s, Type 69s, Stingrays and Scorpions. A maintenance/support nightmare to put it mildly. For whatever reason commonality was never a major concern. If it’s any consolation we were never that bad but then it’s not saying a lot about us if we are comparing ourselves to the Thais with regards to the hodgepodge of gear operated.

    The “mother of all cockups” ( o use a cliche) was the decision to get the Chakri Narubet which the RTN never could afford to put to sea regularly and to fully fit out. At one point the RTN had about 40 A-7s, which like their Matadors. hardly flew.

    One area which they are way ahead of us is with their Gripen/Eriye combo; offering them way superior SA and battle management.

  12. Our neighbours all on shopping spree. The defense firm find SEA is a new lucrative market. I think what the PM had in his brilliant mind that he should put education & development as priority compared to defense. Let’s see what & how we handle the increasingly frequent maritime safety incidents on our shores.

    He just said in New York “They claim that the whole South China Sea belongs to them, that is their claim. So long as they allow ships to pass through (the waterway) that’s okay.”

  13. The reason RTA buy assets from many suppliers s almost the same reason as why MY and Indonesia did it too.
    RTA is the most frequent armed forces in SEA launching coup d’etat. In the western world this action is forbid thay can lead to embargo.
    They preffer a headache in maintenance than stay in the barrack when national interest is in danger.
    As long as money provide, the headache is not that pain.

  14. @ azlan

    The biggest advantage from the gripen program was obviously the creation pf Link-T national datalink for thailand. It enabled secure data transfer between gripens, erieyes, ground control and royal thai navy ships. Right now they are integrating Link-T with F-5 and F-16.

    Right now the royal thai navy is going to defer their 2nd korean frigate in preference to a 2nd chinese submarine. Good for us actually. Gulf of thailand average depth is just 58m and a maximum depth of 83m.

  15. Indon is rude, Indo is not – excuse me what?

    Please advise whether the following are also considered rude; Indone, Indones, Indonesi?

    While you’re at it, you take a look at your own username and think about “quality control of posts”

  16. Romeo,

    Incorrect. What you described applies to Saudi where it’s policy to maintain SANG as insurance against a coup attempt by the military and where different units within the military were equipped differently to make it harder to coordinate a coup.

    In Thailand it’s due to different reasons. Different governments over the years have had different ideas as to what to buy, long before Thailand became a non NATO U.S. ally it was under U.S. protection anyway so commonality was not a big issue being politically driven and a number of big ticket buys were due to prestige reasons. Over the years they have openly stated that the idea behind buying certain things was in response to what neighbours had bought.

    Today the main challenge facing the country is the long standing insurgency down south. After that, they are worried about the potential for border clashes with Myanmar like in the past.

  17. Azlan: “The “mother of all cockups” ( o use a cliche) was the decision to get the Chakri Narubet which the RTN never could afford to put to sea regularly and to fully fit out. ”

    I would think describing the ship as such in Thailand would land one in jail, seeing she is so named.

    She seldom sails and is in de facto reserve status, hardly surprising since there is not much purpose for the ship. Still, she takes up funds that could go towards more useful things.

    Romeo: “The reason RTA buy assets from many suppliers s almost the same reason as why MY and Indonesia did it too… They preffer a headache in maintenance than stay in the barrack when national interest is in danger.”

    Do we really eschew standardisation for that reason, and does the RTA stage coups in the defense of the country’s “national interest?” Such claims might get more traction elsewhere, though I doubt anyone here would believe them and wonder why you would even try it. Can’t you tell?

  18. Somehow doesn’t seem to jive. 8 AH-6 light attack chopper to replace 7 AH-1 Cobra gunships? In terms of capability, no way could the Little Birds replace the Cobras on a 1 to1 basis.

    Perhaps but it’s a start

  19. “Perhaps but it’s a start”
    It would have been a start if they had nothing like us, but they are already using the Cobras. Logically they would have gotten 1to1 replacement gunships (Supercobras, Apache, etc).

    I’m just guessing there was a shift in their anti-armour strategy and their less emphasis on tank-killers now that Indochina region is much more stable than those days the Cobras were essential. What do you think?

  20. AH-6 is way more capable than the old AH-1s they have right now tho with better avionics, electrooptical, HMD and fire and forget capability

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