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Thailand to use blimp to survey Muslim insurgency

Thailand to use blimp to survey Muslim insurgency

Thailand's Cabinet approved the purchase Tuesday of a blimp to help survey the country's insurgency-plagued southern provinces.
More than 3,300 people have been killed in the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani since early 2004, when an Islamic separatist insurgency flared. The provinces are the only ones with Muslim majorities in Buddhist-dominated Thailand, and many Muslims there have long felt they are treated as second-class citizens.
A government spokesman said 260 million baht ($7.2 million) of a total 350 million baht ($9.7 million) would go for the purchase of the unmanned dirigible from the United States. The remainder would be for surveillance cameras for the aircraft and ground equipment.
Deputy government spokesman Suprak Khunha did not give a timeframe for the purchase of the aircraft.
Because airships such as blimps can remain stationary in the air, they are more suitable than other unmanned aerial vehicles or manned aircraft for operations such as counterinsurgency because of their lower operating costs and ability to be deployed for longer uninterrupted periods of time, according to a study by the U.S. Congressional Research Service.
Since 2005, Thailand has taken part in the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School's testing of lighter-than air platforms as part of a program known as the Coalition Operating Area Surveillance and Targeting System, or COASTS. The program is meant to use off-the-shelf technology to provide low-cost capabilities for missions such as border surveillance.


Updated : 2021-07-24 14:45 GMT+08:00