Soldiers of the Royal Thai King’s Guard were spotted carrying golden Israeli Tavor assault rifles during the coronation ceremonies of Maha Vajiralongkorn as the new King of Thailand, Rama X.
The Tavor TAR-21s produced by Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), which were spray-painted gold, were seen at the ceremony in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok last week by Twitter user @PhetDelta, who said that they were painted in the “old tradition of the Royal Police.”
Designed to be more reliable, durable and better suited to close-combat scenarios, the Tavor assault rifle is between 25-28 inches long, depending on the model, and weighs 8 pounds. It fires 5.56 x 45 millimeter rounds, though it can also shoot 9-millimeter ammunition, at a rate of between 750-950 rounds per minute.
The TAR-21 was first used by the IDF in 2006 and has since become the primary assault rifle for all IDF infantry and special forces units, replacing the American M-16 and M-4 rifles. It is also in use by government bodies, law enforcement officers and police SWAT teams worldwide – exported to more than 30 countries, including Columbia, Georgia, Guatemala, India, Portugal and Thailand.
Thailand purchased TAR-21 bullpup assault rifles to replace its M16-A1 assault rifles as the standard issue rifle of the Thai Royal Army and, according to local Thai reports, has around 76,000 TAR-21 rifles in use.
A leader in defense, the world has for many years looked to the Jewish state for security and intelligence, and Israel’s defense industry has leading international companies exporting to countries across the globe.
Last year, during the royal funeral ceremony of former king of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), a short-range drone defense system developed by Israel’s IMI Systems (Israel Military Industries) was operated by the Thai Air Force.
During the funeral, which was attended by more than 250,000 people, including members of the Thai royal family and representatives from 42 countries, the Red Sky 2 Drone Defender system successfully neutralized two attempts to activate drones in the vicinity.
Israel’s defense giant Elbit systems has also sold ATMOS artillery systems and mortars to Thailand. The country ordered six ATMOS-2000 155mm/52-caliber self-propelled guns, which have a range of up to 40 kilometers.
According to Thailand’s Pantip news website, the Thai army received 12 guns for their 721 artillery battalion and plans to purchase another 36 systems for other units. The Royal Thai Marine Corps was also reported to receive another six ATMOS systems.
Elbit also supplied the Thai Army with 120mm. Autonomous Truck Mounted Mortars (ATMMs), mounted on TATA LPTA 715 4x4 utility trucks.
According to Sibat, the military exports unit of the Defense Ministry, the largest distribution of Israeli defense exports in 2018 was in Asia Pacific with 46% (down from 58% the previous year), followed by Europe with 15% (down from 21%), North America with 6% (down by more than half from 14%), Africa with 2% (down from 5%) and Latin America at 6% (the only increase – from 2%).