Veteran Arms Dealer Continues to Supply Myanmar Junta

By The Irrawaddy 27 October 2021

Dr. Naing Htut Aung, a major arms supplier for Myanmar’s military, was also a key weapons dealer for the previous regime led by dictator Senior General Than Shwe.

Registered as a director of the Yangon-based International Gateways Group of Companies Limited, Dr. Naing Htut Aung has had strong ties with successive military leaders, including the current Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, sources told The Irrawaddy.

He is a dominant procurer of weapons, spare parts and upgrades for the navy and air force and is an agent for major state-owned Chinese arms producers, said Justice for Myanmar (JFM), an activist group that monitors the military’s businesses, citing a private-sector source with military connections.

Dr. Naing Htut Aung has good ties with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing.

He was a middleman in the air force’s procurement of 16 JF-17 Thunder fighter jets from Pakistan in 2015. He was also a key figure in a joint venture between the Directorate of Myanmar Defence Industries and China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation to produce the K-8 jet trainer and light attack aircraft in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s military bought 16 JF-17 Thunder multi-role combat aircraft from Pakistan, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly, a specialist military magazine.

A JF-17 aircraft costs around US$28 million and the overall deal was worth around $560 million. The aircraft is co-developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the China-based Chengdu Aerospace Corporation.

Dr. Naing Htut Aung, according to the JFM, is a former director and shareholder of Myanmar Consultancy, which is involved in the procurement of military equipment from Ukraine and India.

Dr. Naing Htut Aung has good ties with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing.

His businesses, Gateways International Holding Company and International Gateways Group of Companies, were registered at the same address as Myanmar Consultancy until late 2020.

Ukrainian export records show Myanmar Consultancy received regular Ukrspecexport shipments from 2016 to 2020, largely of MiG-29 fighter jet parts, 36D6 air surveillance radar components and an IGLA-1M surface-to-air missile simulator.

Ukrspecexport is a state-owned Ukrainian arms trader. Myanmar Consultancy has also received shipments of land-based radar from India’s state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd.

Myanmar Consultancy was an online exhibitor at the MAKS 2021 air show in Russia, which Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing attended in person.

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