By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THE THAI NAVY’S planned procurement of a Chinese-built submarine would probably be delivered beyond 2024, said navy chief Adm.Choengchai Chomchoengpat today (Nov.22).
The latest delay in the planned procurement of the Yuan-class S26T sub was primarily attributed to the failure on the part of the shipbuilder, China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co., to install a German-made MTU396 engine aboard, thus prompting the offer of a Chinese-made engine for use instead, Adm.Choengchai said.
The planned procurement of the 12.4 billion baht submarine, which would be Thailand’s first in six decades, had been earlier scheduled for 2023, then postponed until 2024 purportedly due to the pandemic situation and in the latest development put off beyond 2024, according to the navy chief.
Nevertheless, Adm.Choengchai said the Thai navy would insist that the Chinese navy guarantee the quality and efficiency of the little-known Chinese-made engine in place of the German one for use aboard the S26T sub.
Germany and other European Union states have reportedly imposed an embargo on the sales of military hardware and accessories to Asia’s superpower country.
Talks are scheduled next month between representatives of China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co., the Chinese embassy in Bangkok and the Thai navy on the trouble-plagued procurement of the Yuan-class sub, a copycat of the Russian Kilo-class sub.
However, the navy chief said the submarine purchase contract for which a sum of seven billion baht has already been paid in down payment could finally be scrapped by the Thai navy.
The Thai navy had earlier planned to buy three S26T subs with the two others selling for a combined price of 22.5 billion baht being scheduled to follow in later years.
Earlier this year, deputy navy chief Adm.Thalerngsak Sirisawat had held a talk with the China Shipbuilding & Offshore International vice-chairman Liu Song who had recommended the use of the Chinese-made CHD620 engine in place of the German-made MTU396 which could not be available for use with the S26T submarine being built for the Thai navy.
But Adm.Thalerngsak had turned down the Chinese alternative engine which has never been as yet used by any world navies and insisted that only the German engine be accepted as earlier specified.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had earlier remarked that the whole Thai-Chinese submarine deal could probably be cancelled if the specified German engine could not be installed aboard for whatever reasons.
Prayut who concurrently acts as defence minister earlier commented the purchase deal for the Chinese-built submarine could probably be scrapped only if the navy reconfirms that it must be equipped with the German engine and no others.
China has earlier offered to provide the Thai navy with two secondhand Type 039 subs in place of the Yuan-class S26T sub in case that the sought-after boat could not be eventually delivered.
Former navy chief Somprasong Nilsamai had earlier indefinitely put off the planned purchase of the two other subs of the same type due to budget constraints.
Over the last several years, former navy chief Luechai Ruddit had reportedly pushed for the purchase of the Chinese sub and turned down offers of a secondhand German-built sub or a newly-built South Korean one.
Top: Yuan-class submarine. Photo via Twitter and published by Eurasiantimes.com
Front Page: Navy chief Adm.Choengchai Chomchoengpat. Photo: TNA