Thai Submarine Deal Afloat Again

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According to media reports in Thailand, the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) will revert to its original plan of acquiring a submarine from China after its secondary plan of replacing the submarine with a frigate was deemed unfeasible by both parties.

The kingdom had previously attempted to purchase an S26T Yuan-class submarine from China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Co(CSOC) for roughly USD370 million but the deal was left in limbo after the Chinese shipbuilders were unable to equip the submarine with a German diesel engine as stipulated in the original contract.Subsequently, the Thai government opted to substitute the deal with a frigate and has now reverted back to the submarine.

Sino-Thai negotiations were carried out between delegations led by advisor to Thai defence minister Sutin Klungsang, Gen Somsak Rungsita and deputy director of China’s Bureau of Military Equipment and Technical Cooperation (BOMETEC), Col Shi Xionning respectively. Additionally, the Chinese delegation comprising representatives from BOMETEC, China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), and the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) also met with Minister Klungsang to discuss the matter.

In a government-to-government (G2G) procurement, both sides have agreed to install a CHD620 electric generator onboard in place of the German MTU396 engine. The CHD620 however is reportedly not meant to serve as an engine, merely as a submarine electric generator. The Chinese side is also said to have offered the RTN a submarine training simulator along with some spare parts for compensation.

Next, the Defence Ministry will await approval from the Thai Cabinet regarding the contract amendment, citing the two main changes which call for a contract extension by another 1,200 days and allowing for the CHD620 to be equipped on the submarine.

Pakistan’s purchase of submarines similar to the S26T had also faced a similar stumbling block but approved for the CHD620 to be installed in their new submarines, designated the Hangor II-class. The first submarine in the class was recently launched on May 1. -shp/adj/dl (Pix:USNI NEWS)