Thailand Rejects Chinese Submarine Deal Over Inferior Engine, Scraps Purchase Plans

According to Thai media reports, China appears to have agreed to supply surface ships to Bangkok following Thailand’s decision to forgo purchasing inferior submarines from Beijing.

According to the Bangkok Post citing a Thai Navy source, the Chinese government has tentatively agreed to supply either 2 patrol ships or 1 frigate to Thailand’s navy, as a replacement for the cancelled submarine purchase. This agreement reportedly emerged during the recent visit of Thai Defense Minister Sutin Klungsang to China, accompanied by Navy Commander-in-Chief Adm Adung Phan-iam and Deputy Foreign Minister Jakkapong Sangmanee. It’s understood that China has accepted Thailand’s proposal to acquire 2 offshore patrol ships or 1 frigate instead of the previously contracted submarine. The payment for this arrangement, totaling 8 billion baht over six years, is expected to be covered using the navy’s existing submarine installment funds. However, detailed arrangements for this change are pending finalization by relevant officials.

In October of last year, Thailand floated the possibility of purchasing corvettes instead of submarines from China, following complications arising from Beijing’s inability to utilize originally agreed-upon German engines. At that juncture, Bangkok indicated that China was evaluating Thailand’s proposition.

In 2017, Thailand entered into an agreement to procure the initial submarine within a trio of Yuan S26T-class submarines, equipped with German-manufactured diesel engines, for 13.5 billion baht (approximately 373.55 million USD). Thailand has disbursed over half of the contract value through installment payments.

The parliamentary approval for the acquisition of the two remaining submarines was secured in 2020, with an allocated budget of 22.5 billion baht.

However, the submarine procurement initiative faced delays subsequent to Germany’s prohibition on the use of its engines in Chinese defense applications.

China has suggested substituting German engines with domestically produced equipment, yet successive negotiation rounds have failed to yield a resolution.

Should the procurement shift from submarines to surface vessels materialize, it could raise concerns for China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC), currently tasked with constructing Thailand’s inaugural submarine under the existing agreement, reportedly at 50% completion.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top