By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THAILAND COULD PROBABLY cancel the already-signed purchase order for a Chinese-built submarine if a specified German engine will not be installed aboard and then look to buy another one instead, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha today (Apr. 4).
Prayut who concurrently acts as defence minister apparently downplayed criticism that the Thai navy has been faced with difficulties procuring the Yuan-class S26T submarine being built by China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. in the wake of an international embargo on weapon systems as well as their equipment and accessories from Germany and other European Union states to the Asian superpower country.
Prayut stopped short of saying whether the navy might probably look to buy any other type of Chinese submarine in lieu of the Yuan-class one without the German-made MTU396 engine.
The navy has already paid some seven billion baht in down payment for the 12.4 billion baht Chinese-built submarine for which the specific diesel engine will reportedly remain unavailable.
Nevertheless, Prayut reassured that the purchase deal for such a Chinese-built submarine could probably be scrapped only if the navy stands firm that it must be equipped with the German engine and no other.
The premier commented that the Thai-Chinese relationships will not be adversely affected by such a snag in the procurement of the submarine, Thailand’s first in over six decades.
Navy chief-of-staff Adm Thalerngsak Sirisawat earlier insisted that the sought-after submarine only use the German engine as specified in the signed purchase contract and that no other types of engine will be acceptable as replacement.
Given the reported difficulties in obtaining the German engine for the Thai navy’s submarine, the Chinese shipbuilding firm has already postponed delivery from next year until 2024.
China has earlier offered to provide the Thai navy with two secondhand Type 039 submarines in place of the Yuan-class S26T submarine whereas navy chief Adm Somprasong Nilsamai has indefinitely put off the planned purchase of two more submarines of the same type for 22.5 billion baht due to budget constraints and the sustained pandemic situation.
During the time of former navy chief Luechai Ruddit, the navy had considered procuring a secondhand German submarine and a newly-built South Korean submarine but finally opted for the Chinese one.
Top: The Yuan-class S26T submarine . Photo: Navalnews.com
Home Page: Thai navy officers looking at a S26T diesel-electric submarine model at the 2017 Defence Exhibition. Photo: British “Jane’s Defence Weekly” website and published by Yqqlm.com