By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THAILAND PLANS to call on Germany to provide a German-made engine for a Chinese-built submarine already purchased by the Thai navy, Defence Minister Suthin Khlangsaeng confirmed today (Sep.7).
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Foreign Minister Panpree Pahitthanukorn will likely call on the German government to allow the sale of the German-made MTU396 engine for the Yuan-class S26T submarine being built by China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. in a planned meeting with their German counterparts during the United Nations General Assembly session in New York later this month, Suthin said.
Relationships between Thailand and Germany and with China would remain intact if the Germans eventually agreed to sell the sought-after engine for use with the Chinese sub by the Thai navy, according to the civilian defence minister.
Nevertheless, Thailand’s first Chinese-built S26T sub is not expected for delivery until after next year, given snags in the procurement of the MTU396 engine which was among German military hardware and equipment on which a sustained embargo is imposed for sale to Asia’s superpower.
The Chinese shipbuilding firm earlier insisted that a brand-new, Chinese-made CHD620 engine be installed aboard the S26T sub, a derivative of Russia’s Kilo-class sub, in lieu of the unavailable German engine.
Thai admirals reportedly looked undecided since China’s CHD620 engine had not been combat-proven anywhere or used by any world navies.
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.
The planned procurement of the 12.4 billion baht Chinese-built submarine, which would be Thailand’s first in six decades, had been earlier scheduled for this year, then postponed until next year purportedly due to the pandemic situation over the last few years and then again delayed beyond next year, according to navy chief Choengchai Chomchoengpaet.
The navy chief earlier 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. But former navy chief Somprasong Nilsamai had indefinitely put off the planned purchase of the two other subs of the same type due to budget constraints.
Former prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier commented the entire purchase contract for the Chinese-built submarine could probably be scrapped only if the navy reconfirmed that it must be equipped with the German engine and no other.
In the face of Germany’s and European Union’s embargo on sale of military hardware to China, the Asian superpower had earlier offered to provide the Thai navy with two secondhand Type 039 subs in place of the S26T sub in case the sought-after boat could not be eventually delivered.
Top: Chinese-built S26T submarine. Photo/en.people.cn and published by China Daily
Front Page: Yuan-class submarine. Photo via Twitter and published by Eurasiantimes.com