Maritime security has been a major focus for Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.
As Southeast Asia’s economies boomed, defence spending grew 42 percent in real terms from 2002 to 2011, data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows.
Malaysia has two Scorpene submarines and Vietnam is buying six Kilo-class submarines from Russia. Thailand also plans to buy submarines and its Gripen warplanes from Sweden’s Saab AB will eventually be fitted with Saab’s RBS-15F anti-ship missiles, IISS says.
SIPRI says Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand took the lead in boosting their defence budgets by between 66 and 82 percent from 2002 to 2011.
Thailand, whose military has staged 18 successful or attempted coups since 1932, has built a patrol vessel designed by Britain’s BAE Systems. It plans to modernise one frigate and, within five years, buy the first of two new ones.
“We are not saying these will replace submarines but we are hoping that they can be equally valuable to Thailand,” defence ministry spokesman Thanathip Sawangsaeng told Reuters.
BP: As Saksith has noted, the submarine plans appear off the table for now, but the frigate plans are on track with the Cabinet approving the budget for the purchase of the frigates.
So despite being outside the fray of conflict, Thailand is leading the way on the increase in defence spending without almost all of the increase happening since the September 2006 coup – see previous posts on increased money for the military since the coup here, here, here, here, and here amongst others. Is this really necessary? Or is the money being spent just to pacify the military so they won’t stage another coup or support the overthrow of the government?