25 Februari 2012
The navy had originally planned to buy six second-hand submarines from Germany (photo : Militaryphotos)
Sukumpol presses ahead with U-boats plan
Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat wants to submit the navy's proposals to buy second-hand submarines to the cabinet next week.
However, he said he was unsure whether they will be submitted in time for the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The minister said a few more days are needed to discuss the proposals before they can be forwarded to the cabinet.
ACM Sukumpol said it was a race against time as Germany, which makes the submarines, has given the government until the end of the month to decide whether to buy them or not.
ACM Sukumpol says he supports the navy's position that it needs the submarines to fulfil its maritime defence missions.
If and when the submarines are acquired, the navy will have to adjust its own budget to effectively maintain the upkeep of the submarines.
ACM Sukumpol was yesterday paying a formal visit to the navy for the first time since assuming the post of defence minister.
The minister was greeted by navy chief Surasak Roonroengrom and other senior navy officers.
He was briefed about the navy's development plans for the next 10 years, including its need to have submarines to boost its underwater capabilities to meet any external threats. The navy had originally planned to buy six second-hand submarines from Germany.
However, since the cabinet has not yet approved the proposals, Germany has in the meantime sold two of the submarines to Colombia. The navy now hopes to buy the remaining four for 5.5 billion baht.
"Now, Myanmar wants to acquire submarines ... Thailand's desire to have its own submarines does not mean that the country wants to follow the example of others," he said.
"There has been much talk about submarines since the time of HRH Prince Chumphon Khet Udomsak [the father of the Royal Thai Navy]," said the defence minister.