U-206 class of the German Navy (photo : eircom)
The Royal Thai Navy wants to buy two second-hand submarines at a cost of 6-7 billion baht.
A source said the navy had decided to submit the plan to the cabinet to be approved in principle.
The navy has set up a committee to conduct a feasibility study.
The specifications of the submarines have not been determined but the navy is expected to buy them from European suppliers, probably Germany.
The navy has stressed the need to acquire submarines because Thai sailors have little knowledge of submarine technology, which is constantly upgraded.
``Several neighbouring countries have submarines at their disposal. But Thai sailors have never come into contact with submarines. We are still backwards in terms of submarine technology,'' said the source.
Submarines deployment in the Pacific (image : heritage)
The navy has realised that much of the country's budget has to be spent on remedying economic woes, so it will propose buying second-hand craft.
Navy chief Kamthorn Phumhiran said the government must decide whether to allocate money for the submarines.
The project is part of a 10-year plan to streamline the armed forces.
Adm Kamthorn said there was also a need to buy a new fleet of frigates to replace ones that have been in use for 15 to 30 years. The existing ones have had to undergo repairs several times.
The plan has the backing of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who wants the armed forces to improve their capabilities in what is seen as a return of favours to the military for standing by the government in dealing with the red shirts during last year's protests.
Army, navy and air force commanders have been told to prepare their weapons procurement plans for submission to the government for approval in principle.
The source said the purchase plans proposed by the armed forces would come to an estimated 400 billion baht.