26 September 2009

Thailand's Submarine Ambitions Back on Agenda

26 September 2009

Thailand is also on the search for submarines. The Thai navy currently has no submarine capability and has a requirement for 4 (four) submarines. However, the ongoing political upheaval in Thailand and the financial situation might result in this requirement not materialising into anything concrete, but China is keen to provide Song class submarines in a barter trade deal. (photo : Military Today)

An increase in acquisitions of submarines by Southeast Asian countries is prompting Thailand to step up a gear in its bid to procure its own platform, the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) told Jane's on 23 September.

Thailand's last serious bid to procure submarines ended in May 1996 when the government announced that due to financial pressures it would not follow up on a project to acquire two or three diesel-electric platforms at an estimated cost of around USD500 million.

While the acquisition of the same number of submarines would cost considerably more now – and therefore the financing of a fresh procurement programme could prove similarly difficult – a senior officer in the RTN said that regional developments had made the requirement necessary.

These developments have seen Malaysia purchase two Scorpene submarines, which are expected to be commissioned and deployed in East Malaysia by late 2009 or early 2010; Singapore relaunch the first of two Västergötland-class (A 17) submarines in June 2009; Vietnam enter a deal with Russia to purchase six Project 877EKM ('Kilo'-class) boats; and Indonesia, which already operates two Type 209-class submarines, announce that it will purchase two more platforms in the next two years, possibly from South Korea or Russia.


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