Thailand's purchase of eight AH-6i light-attack recon helicopters will replace an older fleet of seven AH-1F Cobra helicopters. Credit: Boeing.

The US Department of State (DOS) has approved the sale to Thailand of eight AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopters and related weapons and equipment at an estimated cost of US$400 million, The Defense Post reported.

“These AH-6i helicopters will replace the RTA’s aging fleet of seven AH-1F Cobra helicopters,” as part of a broader military modernization effort, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a release.

“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 the US Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility, DSCA said.

The sale will improve the Royal Thai Army’s capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats, DSCA said, adding that the AH-6i helicopters “will provide light attack reconnaissance for close air support to special operations forces, Stryker infantry soldiers and border guard units.”

In addition to the eight aircraft, the government of Thailand requested to buy 10 M299 Longbow Hellfire Launchers and 50 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, along with 10 M260 rocket launchers and 200 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS)  guided rockets, The Defense Post reported.

The M299 launcher missile launcher carries four Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and can launch AGM-114R “Romeo” missiles equipped with semi-active laser seeker and a K-charge multi-purpose warhead, as well as AGM-114L “Longbow Hellfire” millimeter-wave radar seeker-equipped fire-and-forget and lock-on after launch capable missiles.

The Boeing AH-6i light-attack reconnaissance helicopter. Courtesy: Boeing.

APKWS upgrades 2.75-inch (70 mm) rockets to a semi-active laser guided precision weapon. The system is a design conversion for Hydra 70 unguided rockets turning them into low-yield precision-guided munitions to help avoid collateral damage, The Defense Post reported.

The proposed sale also includes eight L3 Wescam MX-10Di sensor turrets that can include laser designators, 10 M134 Mini Guns, four GAU-19/B .50 calibre machine guns and 500 Hydra 70 rockets, along with night vision goggles, communications and navigation equipment, an Aircrew Trainer, a Pilot Desktop Trainer, and a Virtual Maintenance Trainer, training, and other program support.

The estimated total program cost is US$400 million and the principal contractor is Boeing.

Meanwhile, the US Department of State also approved the sale of two AN/AAQ-24(V)N large aircraft infrared countermeasure (LAIRCM) systems and related equipment to Qatar, with an estimated cost of US$86 million. Those systems, produced by Northrop Grumman, will be fitted onto a pair of 747-800 head-of-state aircraft.

Included in the package are 12 Guardian Laser Turret Assemblies, seven LAIRCM system processor replacements, 23 missile warning sensors and a variety of back-end support equipment. The sale “will facilitate a more robust capability into areas of increased missile threats,” per the DSCA.

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