HTMS Naresuan 421 frigates (photo : Militaryphotos)
The Navy is pushing for Cabinet endorsement of projects that require funding of more than Bt16 billion, to buy six used submarines and to upgrade two of its frigates.
Navy commander-in-chief Admiral Kamthon Phumhirun is seeking Cabinet approval of the purchase of six second-hand submarines from the German navy at a cost of Bt7.6 billion, a source said yesterday. He hopes to get a green light before Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dissolves the House of Representatives, expected in early May.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan is expected to submit the Navy's purchase plan to the Cabinet in a week or two. At a meeting on April 25, the Cabinet approved the Navy plan in principle, as outlined in a classified document.
The plan to buy used German-made submarines has drawn both criticism and scepticism about their worthiness for the job. The subs - being decommissioned by the German navy - are more than 30 years old but are expected to be good for another 10 years.
HTMS Taksin 422 frigates (photo : Militaryphotos)
The Navy is also seeking approval of a Bt7.5-billion budget to upgrade its frigates, the Taksin and the Naresuan. Plans involve equipping the ships with anti-submarine systems, aviation-defence units and additional weapons.
The source said the upgrade would also see data-link systems installed on the frigates to allow smooth communication between the combat vessels, the new Swedish-made Gripen jet fighters to be acquired by the Air Force, jet fighters of allied countries and other ships of the Navy.
However, in the Navy's current request, a data-link system is not part of the upgrade plan - although the suggested budget of Bt7.5 billion is Bt700 million higher than the estimate for a previous Navy project that included a data-link system.
The Navy also plans to upgrade the HTMS Chakri Naruebet at a cost of about Bt1 billion.