By Thai Newsroom Reporters
NAVY CHIEF ADM ADUNG Pan-iam today (Nov.20) expressed his preference for a Chinese-built submarine for which a purchase order has been earlier placed rather than a frigate as a probable option from another Chinese shipbuilder.
The navy chief confirmed the Yuan-class S26T submarine could be eventually procured, albeit with a Chinese-made engine to be installed aboard in lieu of a German one which had been earlier designed but will remain unavailable for use with the sub manufactured by China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co.
Adm. Adung said the Chinese-made CHD620 engine which, he said, is merely a licensed derivative of the German MTU396 engine has undergone operability tests by the unidentified Chinese shipbuilding firm.
The Thai navy has long planned to deploy a fleet of four submarines, essentially viewed as a “strategic” weapon system, but the planned procurement of the Chinese sub, Thailand’s first in six decades, was practically irrelevant to the fact that some neighbouring countries are already deploying submarines, according to the navy chief.
Adm. Adung apparently referred to Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar whose respective navies are currently deploying varied types of submarines, including those manufactured by Russia, Germany and South Korea.
The navy chief was apparently responding to a fresh move earlier made by Defence Minister Suthin Khlangsaeng for the procurement of a Chinese-built frigate in lieu of the Chinese-built submarine which would otherwise do without the German engine as specified in the 12.4 billion baht purchase contract with some seven billion baht in down payment having been paid earlier.
The navy has already planned to procure a couple of frigates in fiscal 2024 to add to a fleet of six Chinese-built ones currently deployed, including two Naresuan-class frigates and four Chao Phraya-class frigates.
However, the newly-named navy chief would decidedly prefer to procure the S26T with the CHD620 engine rather than another Chinese-built frigate as far as the navy’s long-laid scheme to procure “strategic” weapon systems are concerned.
Former navy chief Somprasong Nilsamai had earlier put on hold the purchase of two more S26T subs as a follow-on to the first one whose delivery has been further delayed for lack of the German engine.
It remains to be seen whether the now-suspended purchase orders for the two other Chinese subs of the same type will be placed again in the future.
Top: A submarine. Photo: Thai Rath
Front Page: Navy Chief Adm. Adung Pan-iam. Photo: Thai Rath