By Thai Newsroom Reporters
A CHINESE SUBMARINE builder is being given a 60-day timeframe to officially confirm whether or not a German-made engine will be installed aboard the Yuan-class S26T submarine currently being built for the Thai navy and an exact delivery date for the boat, said navy spokesman Vice-Adm Pokkhrong Monthatpalin today (June 10).
The navy’s latest demand for China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. to meet the earlier-agreed-upon specifications of its submarine and the rescheduled delivery followed today’s talks between navy chief-of-staff Adm Thalerngsak Sirisawat and the Chinese firm’s vice-chairman Liu Song.
During the talks at the navy’s headquarters, the Chinese submarine builder suggested that the navy accept CHD620 engine to replace the German-made MTU396 which the firm said will not be available for use with the S26T submarine, Vice-Adm Pokkhrong said.
But the navy chief-of-staff turned down the Chinese alternative engine which has never been as yet used by any world navies and insisted that only the German engine be accepted as earlier specified and has given the Chinese firm the 60-day timeframe to come up with an official statement to either confirm or deny it, according to the navy spokesman.
China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. has earlier rescheduled the delivery of its submarine to the navy from within next year to 2024.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier remarked that the Thai-Chinese submarine deal could probably be cancelled if the specified German engine is not installed aboard for whatever reasons.
The unavailability of the German-made MTU396 engine was apparently reported in the wake of an international embargo on exports of weapon systems, supplementary equipment and accessories from Germany and other European Union states to China.
The navy has already paid some seven billion baht in down payment for the 12.4 billion baht S26T submarine, Thailand’s first in over six decades.
Prayut who concurrently acts as defence minister earlier commented that the purchase deal for the Chinese-built submarine could probably be scrapped if the navy reconfirms that it must be equipped with the German engine and no others.
China has earlier offered to provide the Thai navy with two second-hand 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, who had pushed for the purchase of the Chinese submarine, the navy had considered procuring a second-hand German submarine and a newly-built South Korean submarine but finally opted for the S26T, a copycat of Russia’s Kilo-class submarine.
Top: Yuan-class submarine. Photo via Twitter and published by Eurasiantimes.com
Front 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