Thailand is buying 96 BTR-3EI 8x8
wheeled armored vehicles from Ukraine. The BTR-3EI is a 17 ton vehicle armed
with a 30mm autocannon, a 7.62mm machine-gun, and a 30mm grenade launcher. It
also has smoke grenade launchers. There is a three man crew, and space for six
troops or passengers in the back. There are firing ports and bullet-proof
windows in the passenger department. Thailand will pay $1.3 million for each of
the vehicles, which will be used for counter-terror operations in the south.
The BTR-3EI is air conditioned and amphibious, but further changes will be made
to adapt the vehicle to operations in the tropics. The BTR-3EI was developed
seven years ago. Thailand wanted to buy them then, but there wasn't money in
the defense budget. Since the military took over control of the government last
year, defense spending has quadrupled. Armored vehicles are needed because the
Islamic terrorists down south are increasingly using roadside bombs and
ambushes against army patrols. The terrorists don't use RPGs, however, so the
BTR-3 won't need slat armor added on.