Interview with General Choochart Buakhao, Director-General of Defence Technology Institute (DTI), member of the Board of Directors and Secretary.
The Defence Technology Institute is the primary defence research and development organisation under the Ministry of Defence. It not only supports the Royal Thai Armed Forces, but also government agencies and the civil sector in certain projects.
Bilingual Show Daily (BSD): What will be different about the Defense & Security (D&S) show since the last event pre-COVID?
Director General Buakhao (DGB): For DTI, there is certainly much different from the last event which was held before the pandemics. The transformation at DTI by the government has led to an increase in duties and powers in promoting the defence industry. The example of the additional authorities and powers are as follows:
- To engage in activities in the defense industry;
- To establish or jointly establish organisations which are juristic persons, as well as invest in, hold shares in or become a partner with any person or juristic person in order to operate the activities of the defense industry in accordance with the criteria and procedures, specified by the Defense Technology Policy Committee, with the approval of the Cabinet;
- To delegate any other person to act as a representative to engage in activities under the objectives of the Institute, where it shall also be in accordance with the relevant laws and the international agreements under which Thailand is obligated;
- To manufacture and sell defence products that DTI research and develop in accordance with the rules prescribed by the defence technology policy committee, domestically and aboard.
Since the Defence Technology Act 2019 came into force on May 1st, 2019, DTI have jointly established three joint venture companies, the Thai Defense Industry (TDI); the Aero Technology Industry Company Limited (ATIL); and the Weapon Manufacture Industry (WMI). These represent the most significantly difference from the last exhibition for DTI. Therefore, there are many products of military equipment manufactured by the Joint Venture companies such as 4×4 armoured vehicles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and rifles, which will be shown at the DTI pavilion. Furthermore, there are more research prototypes, which have been developed by DTI and the potential partners.
Please stop by the DTI pavilion where there will be souvenirs available.
BSD: How large is the participation of the Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTARF) and which of their exhibits will be of particular interest to international visitors?
DGB: As usual, the Thai MoD coupled with the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence (OPSD), the Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTARF), the Royal Thai Army (RTA), the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) and the Royal Thai Air force (RTAF) will be participating with exhibits and will showcase many type of military equipment at the Thai MOD pavilion including:
- 9 research prototypes of OPSD
- 4 research prototypes of RTARF
- 16 research prototypes of RTA
- 4 research prototypes of RTN
- 6 research prototypes of RTAF
All exhibits mentioned above have involved research and development conducted by our Thai MoD researchers and manufactured by MoD-owned factories, especially all kind of ammunitions. As a result, the defence sector can strengthen Thailand’s economy and achieve self-reliance on defence technology.
BSD: Which international companies and countries are new to the event this year?
DGB: According to our information, there are many companies ready to receive visitors and they will be located at a variety of international pavilions such as South Korea, China, France, USA, Turkiye, Singapore, Czech Republic, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Germany, Israel, Qatar, and others. And the newest ones are the three joint venture companies of DTI: TDI, ATIL and WMI. There are many entrepreneurs inside each pavilion so it will be very interesting this year for visitors to the exhibition.
BSD: What are the objectives of the DTI to grow the defence sector in Thailand? Are there any new industrial incentives to international companies to have a regional base in Thailand or enter into joint ventures?
DGB: Generally, as you know that the Thai government has announced the defense industry as the new S-Curve 11, this will directly correspond with the Thailand 4.0 Policy. It means that the defence industry can drive Thailand’s economy and elevate Thailand to become one of the developed countries.
DTI, as the government agency established by the Defence Technology Act 2019, is one of the key ecosystems for supporting and promoting the expansion of the Thai defence industry. According to the National Strategy on Competitiveness Enhancement of the National Strategy 2018 – 2037, there are two goals; the defence industry has expanded and the exports of the defence industry will continue to increase. To accomplish these two goals, there are several essential objectives including: to perform research and develop innovation based on defence technology; to promote and support defence industry activities; to develop training, research, knowledge and personnel; to collaborate domestically and internationally; and to be a centre for information and knowledge. DTI believes that one of the key activities is to establish the Defence Industrial Estate, which will be started in fiscal year 2023 going forward to 2027, and tangibly grow the defence industry.
All interested companies are welcome and can visit DTI pavilion for more information on this matter.
Additionally, we can engage in defence industry business, invest domestically and internationally by forming a joint venture, and by providing defence services and performing testing certification for defence products. As a result, international companies can joint – invest with DTI for the establishment of a juristic organisation to carry out the activities of the defence industry.
Addressing the new industrial incentives to international companies, the Eastern Economic Corridor Office of Thailand (EECO) and the Office of the Board of Investment (BOI) are also part of the ecosystems for growing the defence industry. EECO is a vital public agency aiming to encourage investment, uplift innovation, and advanced technology. They are the business facilitator that adds value across the entire project lifecycle and coordinates closely and proactively with other public authorities and private sectors to ensure the success of the projects. BOI is a government agency under the Office of the Prime Minister. Its main roles and responsibilities are to promote direct investment and can provide information regarding investment promotion, including benefits and privileges, lists of eligible activities, related announcements and, also, investment promotion application criteria and conditions. The defence industry is categorised in the Activity– based Incentives and has been classified into four activities:
- Manufacture and/or repair of vehicles and weapon systems for national defence: tanks, armoured cars or combat vehicles, combat-facilitating vehicles and specific parts used in their manufacture and/or repair.
- Manufacture and/or repair of unmanned systems for national defence and parts used in their manufacture and/or repair: Unmanned ground system repair using advanced technology ground systems (UGS), unmanned maritime systems (UMS), unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and specific parts used in the manufacture and/or repair in activities such as in main structures, mechanical arms, handles, communication systems, camera systems, computer systems, electrical systems, batteries, etc.
- Manufacture and/or repair of weapons and exercise-facilitating equipment for national defence and parts: simulation and virtual training systems such as virtual training facilitating systems for combat vehicles, personal weapon and unit weapon training field systems; Joint Theatre Level Simulation systems (JTLS), etc.
- Manufacture and/or repair of combat facilitating equipment such as bullet-proof and flak-proof vests, armour or bullet-proof and flak-proof shields.
BSD: Are there any conferences/seminars organised and, if so, can you summarise what subjects they will cover?
DGB: Yes, there is a very interesting seminar on August 31, 2022 Jupiter Hall #12 -13 at 1:00pm and the topic is: “Direction and Guideline of Strategic Drive towards the Future of Thai Defence Industry Promotion.”
In this seminar, all participants will be provided ‘the big picture’ of how the defence industry in Thailand is defined, the ecosystems of the defence industry, the government agencies that will play an important role in driving the defence industry, the incentives for any interested companies who would like to invest in Thailand and the establishment of the Defence Industrial Estate. Additionally, the One Stop Services (OSS) will be set up inside the Defence Industrial Estate to facilitate and assist all investors in order to approve, permit and grant the rights and concessions under related laws.
BSD: Why is the Defense & Security show in August/September when it is usually held much later in the year? Do you intend to relocate the next event to later in the year?
DGB: Due to the pandemic of Covid-19, the Defense & Security 2021 was postponed for one year and will be held on August 29 – September 1, 2022. It is normally held in November every other year. Therefore, the next Defense & Security Exhibition will be relocated back to normal and will be held on November 6 – 9, 2023.
BSD: Are there any other comments that you would like to make about this years Defense and Security Show?
DGB: The Covid-19 pandemic has given us difficult time and caused us to adjust ourselves to the new normal. It has also affected the economy worldwide. Thailand is one of the countries that have managed and prevented the spread of COVID-19 effectively. For the defence industry, it is clear that Thailand’s government and the Ministry of Defence have a strong intention to come out of this successfully. Furthermore, DTI is a vital government agency responsible for the defence industry which can also operate commercially, especially in the export of all military equipment. The DTI’s platform offers a full service on a “winner takes all business” basis. Therefore, we would like to invite the industry who are interested in cooperating with DTI, leading to a joint venture for production and sales, to visit us at the show.
In addition, interested parties are invited to invest in the Defence Industrial Estate. We anticipate that it would take about 4-5 years to be completed by starting in fiscal year 2023. As a result, Thailand will be become a significant global supply chain and with the advantage of its geographical location, where we can export products to different regions effectively. Last but not least, please come and visit us at DTI’s pavilion where we showcase our latest defence technology and innovations.
by Andrew Drwiega