By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THAILAND HAS NOW OPTED for a fresh purchase of a Chinese-built frigate in lieu of the Chinese-built submarine, already bought by the Thai navy but unfinished by a Chinese shipbuilding firm, Defence Minister Suthin Khlangsang said over the weekend.
Given the likelihood of China Shipbuilding & Offshore International’s failure to have a German-made engine installed aboard its Yuan-class S26T submarine as earlier specified in the purchase contract, Thailand would ultimately prefer a Chinese-built frigate be procured instead, according to the defence minister.
The Thai navy which has already planned to purchase a frigate with its 2024 budget would have another one to be procured from China in place of the S26T submarine to add to a fleet of four Chao Phraya-class frigates and a couple of Naresuan-class frigates, Suthin said.
He said the navy’s top brass members have already agreed in principle to the proposed exchange between the trouble-plagued submarine and the Chinese-built frigate which, he said, will be specified as an anti-submarine warfare vessel.
It remains to be seen whether China will finally agree to the proposed option with respect to the Thai navy’s strategic procurement projects whilst the type of the Chinese-built frigate to replace the 12.4 billion baht S26T submarine due to lack of the German MTU396 engine is not available to disclose as yet.
Suthin said the Chinese-built frigate would sell for an estimated 17 billion baht, the purchase of which could be in large part paid for by the seven billion baht down payment earlier placed for the submarine.
The defence minister categorically denied that the navy’s submarine project with the S26T otherwise designed to be the country’s first in six decades has been entirely scrapped by the civilian government.
He said the navy’s submarine procurement scheme could probably be reintroduced in the future, albeit indefinitely put on hold for now.
Top and Front Page: Defence Minister Suthin Khlangsang with a Chinese-built S26T submarine in the background. Both photos: Matichon