By Thai Newsroom Reporters
PRIME MINISTER SRETTHA Thavisin said today (Oct.16) he will be looking at a possible swap of an already-purchased, Chinese-built submarine for a Chinese-built surface ship for the Thai navy.
The prime minister said he plans to negotiate with high-level Chinese government officials during the first Asean-GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) Summit scheduled in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, between Oct.17 and Oct.22 the possibility of the Thai navy opting out by procuring the surface ship from China in exchange for the Yuan-class S26T submarine for which the German-made MTU396 engine specified in the purchase contract was unavailable and an initial payment was already made.
The Thai navy currently deploys Chinese-built surface ships, including two Naresuan-class and four Chao Phraya-class frigates plus two Pattani-class offshore patrol boats.
Srettha said he will be seeking such a possibility to settle the “yet unsolved, delicate” matter once and for all with respect to the navy’s strategic scheme to upgrade its maritime defence capabilities.
The prime minister had desperately called on high-level German government officials to help with the sought-after sale of the German-made engine for the Chinese submarine built by China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. during last month’s United Nations General Assembly in New York.
No official response has been given by the German government, prompting the prime minister to push for the possible exchange between the submarine and Chinese-built surface ship.
Germany is among the European Union member states which imposed an embargo on the sale of military hardware and equipment to China.
The Chinese shipbuilding firm desperately recommended a Chinese-made CHD620 engine be installed aboard the 12.4-billion-baht sub, a derivative of Russia’s Kilo-class sub, in lieu of the unavailable German engine whilst Thai admirals looked undecided since China’s brand-new engine had not been combat-proven anywhere or used by any world navies.
The navy had already paid seven billion baht in down payment for the Chinese sub, earlier meant to be Thailand’s first in six decades, whilst the purchase of a couple more of the same type for a combined price of 22.5 billion baht had been earlier planned.
Top: Chinese-built S26T submarine. Photo/en.people.cn and published by China Daily
Insert: HTMS Chao Phraya (FFG-455) of the Royal Thai Navy. Photo: Asia Pacific Defense Journal
Front Page: The Yuan-class S26T submarine . Photo: Navalnews.com