The security assistance enterprise has delivered the first four refurbished Stryker M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicles to the Royal Thai Army.
The Strykers are part of a broader effort to help Thailand modernize its army.
Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong and U.S. Navy Admiral Phil Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, greeted the C17 Globemaster aircraft when it arrived Aug. 29 at Don Mueang Military Airport in Bangkok.
Sometimes the foreign military sales process is perceived as being slow; however, each foreign military sales case is tailored to meet the need. What is unique about this case is how fast the U.S. was able to provide the first of the vehicles, which shows the flexibility of the process and how each case can be tailored to meet the needs of the partner or ally.
Thailand needed the first vehicles by mid-September. From the request Feb. 25 to delivery of the last of the first set of vehicles Sept. 6, it took less than seven months to get the vehicles to Thailand.
Through foreign military sales and Section 333 requests, Thailand will receive a total of 70 refurbished Stryker vehicles by the end of fiscal 2020.
In a foreign military sales case, the receiving partner country pays for the vehicles. Under Section 333, the U.S. government, through an annual appropriation, provides the support and equipment to national security forces of foreign countries. These programs help build operational capacity in partner nations.
In the initial letter of request, the Royal Thai Army said it needed to replace the M-113 tracked armored vehicles with the more modern eight-wheeled armored Stryker vehicle. The upgrade will ensure the Royal Thai Army has compatible vehicles and doctrine to train and operate with the U.S. during cooperative activities.
Acquiring the Stryker vehicles supports efforts to build partner capacity to plan, train and operate with U.S. forces in support of mutual strategic interests.
According to Country Program Manager Jerrid Spinks, the Security Assistance Command received the first of three Letters of Request from Thailand Feb. 25.
“The first two LORs requested 47 refurbished Stryker vehicles through FMS at an estimated value of $105 million,” Spinks said. “The second and third LORs combined requested 10 vehicles and support equipment through the Section 333 program. We anticipate another request through 333 for an additional 13 vehicles.”
Additional vehicles to support follow-on LORs are in the planning phase, he said.
Together, the LORs and subsequent Letters of Offer and Acceptance provide what is known in FMS as a Total Package Approach, which means the receiving partner or ally gets the vehicles, training, maintenance and spare parts.
USASAC worked with the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, Communications-Electronics Command, Program Manager Stryker and the Program Executive Office-Ground Combat Systems to process the requests.
TACOM received the tasker for case development March 6. Deputy assistant secretary of the Army for defense exports and cooperation approved removing the vehicles from the Army inventory March 18. General Dynamics Land Systems, manufacturer of the Stryker vehicle, started the refurbishment April 1. The first 15 vehicles had been refurbished by July 19.
Spinks said this turnaround was fast in terms of development. He said that while waiting for the LOA to be developed, funds granted by the Special Defense Acquisition Fund allowed General Dynamics Land Systems to start refurbishing the vehicles. Assuming the risk that once the LOA was offered and accepted, Thailand would pay for the vehicles.
Despite obstacles encountered along the way, for instance waiting for certification of election results in Thailand, obtaining an End User Certificate from the German government for spall liners that are used to protect crews and equipment inside from fragmentation, the team met the required delivery date. The U.S. does not manufacture the spall liners and needed Germany’s approval to put them on the vehicles. The EUC was received June 28. The Thai government cabinet was finalized July 4.
The remaining 55 Stryker vehicles are expected to be delivered by the close of fiscal year 2020, Spinks said. Procurement of the Stryker vehicles is part of the greater effort to modernize the Royal Thai Army.