By Thai Newsroom Reporters
IT WILL BE VERY UNLIKELY for the Thai navy to buy a German-made engine to install aboard a Chinese-built submarine in Thailand, said navy chief Adm. Cherngchai Chomcherngpat yesterday (Oct. 3).
The newly-appointed navy chief categorically dismissed unconfirmed news reports that the German-made MTU396 engine might probably be imported and installed in Thailand aboard the Yuan-class S26T submarine which China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co is scheduled to deliver to the Thai navy in 2024.
The planned procurement of Thailand’s first submarine in six decades has apparently hit a snag since Germany refused to sell the MTU396 submarine engine to the Chinese shipbuilding firm under the European Union’s embargo measures banning exports of European weapon systems, combat equipment and accessories to the Asian superpower country.
Adm. Cherngchai said the sought-after engine for use aboard the Chinese-built submarine will only be installed in the shipbuilder’s country and not in the customer’s country, however.
Nevertheless, the navy chief stopped short of either confirming or denying whether the whole submarine procurement scheme might probably be scrapped due to the Chinese shipbuider’s reported failure to procure the German engine which the Thai navy had earlier specified in the signed purchase contract for the Chinese boat.
So far, the Thai navy has turned down China’s offers of a Chinese-made CHD620 engine for use aboard the Yuan-class S26T submarine in place of the German engine. The Chinese submarine engine has never been used by any world navies or practically proven for operational efficiency or seaworthiness.
Prime Minister-cum-Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier said the entire Thai-Chinese submarine deal could probably be cancelled if the specified German engine cannot be installed aboard it for whatever reasons.
The navy has already paid some seven billion baht in down payment for the 12.4 billion baht S26T submarine with two more of the same type, a copycat of Russia’s Kilo-class submarine, earlier planned to be procured for a combined price of 22.5 billion baht.
Adm. Cherngchai said the navy might probably look to buy new frigates and helicopters in the foreseeable future during which the problematic procurement of the Chinese submarine may be further delayed or eventually scrapped.
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