Thai Army Boosts Air Defense Missile Capability

 - January 18, 2018, 1:12 PM
The Thai Army put the KS-1C SAM system on display during an open day at the system’s home base, Surat Thani. (Photo: Sukasom Hiranphan)

The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has displayed the Chinese KS (KaiShan)-1C surface-to-air missile (SAM) system that it has acquired in the past two years. It is also going ahead this year, with the purchase of vertical launch (VL) MICA air defense missile systems from MBDA. Until now, the RTA operated only short-range anti-aircraft guns such as the Oerlikon GDF-007, and man-portable missiles such as the Thales Starstreak.

The KS-1C was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Cooperation (CASIC) and is the improved version of the KS-1A. It has an increased range, to 70 km from 50 km, and engagement altitude to 27 km from 24 km. The RTA KS-1Cs are fired from twin launch-rails mounted on a Chinese-made 6x6 truck.

The Chinese SAM system is paired with the H-200 phased-array engagement radar, which has detection range of up to 120 km. At the time of development, the H-200 was China’s first phased-array air defense radar, and many likened the display and concept of operation to those of the American Patriot AN/MPQ-53 system. Chinese literature highlighted that the H-200 radar is able to direct six KS-1 missiles to intercept three to six incoming targets.

Unlike the Western-leaning Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), the RTA has adopted various Chinese equipment, including the WS-1 302 mm multiple rocket launcher and the new VT-4 main battle tank. Perhaps the RTAF will take an interest in China’s UAV systems, which are being heavily marketed for export.

At last year’s Defence and Security Show in Bangkok, Pascal Emler, regional executive export sales for MBDA, said that his company will deliver two truck-mounted VL MICA launchers this year, along with a command truck. But the RTA decided not to buy a second pair of launchers, as originally planned in 2013. MBDA claims that the “fire-and-forget” MICA is the only one in the world capable of being fitted with either a heat-seeking homing head (VL MICA IR) or with an active radar (VL MICA RF).

The Thai MICA firing unit will be paired with an Airbus Defence & Space TRML-3D/32 mobile C-band phased-array radar that has a detection range of up to 200 km.