Thai defence ministry to resolve submarine procurement issue soonLegacy

The Thai defence ministry is anticipating a solution to its submarine procurement dilemma in the forthcoming two weeks, with the likely adoption of the Chinese engine, according to an official from the Navy. The current predicament is under examination by a panel focusing on the Navy’s procurement of a Chinese submarine. The panel’s task is to determine whether to extend the existing contract for an additional 1,217 days, following the receipt of a letter from the Office of the Attorney-General.

Sutin Klungsang, the Defence Minister, has revealed that the panel is meticulously evaluating the details to reach a final decision. The procurement plan is under review, with three key considerations: the requirement of a submarine by the navy, the benefits to the nation, and the impact on bilateral relations.

The procurement plan originated during the previous administration of General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who served simultaneously as prime minister and defence minister from 2014. The initial contract demanded that the partially constructed Chinese Yuan-class S26T submarine be powered by a German-built MTU 396 engine. However, Germany declined to sell the engines to China, as they are classified as military/defence items, reported Bangkok Post.

This denial was a consequence of the European Union’s 1989 directive to enforce an arms embargo on China. Following this, the China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) proposed the Chinese-built CHD620 engine as an alternative.

Nonetheless, the Chinese Navy is required to certify the CHD620 engine’s compatibility with the Thai Navy and guarantee its safety. Additionally, it must compensate for any subsequent delays, the navy source added.

In related news, the Thai Cabinet is set to make a final verdict regarding the purchase of a Chinese-built submarine, stated Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang. The decision comes after the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) approved the use of a Chinese engine for the submarine and recommended extending the contract. Sutin is expected to discuss the matter further with Royal Thai Navy (RTN) Chief Adm Adung Phan-iam upon his return from abroad

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Author: Mitch Connor