[FONT=Arial] The People’s Republic of China (PRC) last month delivered the first of two offshore patrol vessels (OPV) to the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), and also inked a US$115 million deal to supply 96 NORINCO-built WZ-551 6 x 6 armoured personnel carriers to the Royal Thai Army (RTA) under a counter-trade agreement.
[/FONT] [FONT=Arial] The OPVs have been built by the China State Shipbuilding Corp’s (CSSC) Shanghai-based Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard under an agreement signed in May 2002. The first OPV is named HTMS Pattani (511) and it was delivered to Thailand on December 16. The second OPV, called HTMS Naratiwat (512), will be delivered this March. Both vessels were launched in 2004 and make extensive use of COTS technologies to keep the acquisition and maintenance costs low. Each OPV has a length of 95.5 metres, beamwidth of 11.6 metres, displaces 1,440 tonnes, is crewed by a complement of 84 personnel, and is powered by twin Rushton 16RK270 diesel engines driving twin controllable-pitch propellers. The armaments package comprises one OTOBREDA 76/62 main gun and twin 40mm secondary guns. Both OPVs also feature one rear helicopter deck capable of housing helicopters like the AgustaWestland-built Super Lynx Mk300.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial] The OPVs’ combat management system is STN ATLAS of Germany’s COSYS Mk1, which was selected in June 2003. STN Atlas was also the overall systems integrator. The fire-control systems include one TMX supplied by Oerlikon Contraves AG. Rohde & Schwarz has supplied the integrated communications system, while Raytheon Marine GmbH’s integrated platform and machinery management system has been installed. SELEX Sistemi Integrati was selected in April 2003 to supply two X-band RAN 30X/I mast-mounted naval surveillance radars worth Euros6 million. The RAN 30X/I has four operational modes: surface and air surveillance mode for small airborne/surface targets; navigation and helicopter control mode with high antenna rotation speed for navigation close to the coastline; over-the-horizon detection mode with low-antenna rotation speed and long-range detection capability; and anti-sea-skimming cruise missile detection mode, with high-antenna rotation speed to detect and track very small manoeuvring targets.
[/FONT] [FONT=Arial] CSSC had earlier delivered four 1,924-tonne 05HT guided-missile frigates to the RTN in the early 1990s, comprising the HTMS Chaophraya (455), HTMS Bang Pakong (456), HTMS Kraburi (457) and HTMS Saiburi (458). In addition, CSSC supplied a new-build Hudong-Type R22T-class fleet replenishment tanker in the late 1990s. This tanker is 171 meters long and displaces 22,000 tonnes at full load. It also has a flight deck and a hangar for one helicopter.[/FONT]