Thailand to recommend continuing stalled submarine project with China

A Type 039 submarine, which will be used as basis for the S26T submarine for Thailand. Photo x/o Military and Commercial Technology.

The defense ministries of both Thailand and China have reached an agreement to continue with the stalled acquisition of the S26T diesel-electric attack submarine for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) after reaching an agreement to use Chinese-made diesel engines.

This is after China failed to secure the use of marine diesel engines from German manufacturer MTU for use on Chinese Type 039A-derived S26T submarine bound for Thailand.

Due to this failure by shipbuilder China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) to meet contractual obligations, the Royal Thai Navy recommended to scrap the submarine deal and instead offset it by instead procuring a Chinese-made frigate.

The latest agreement, which was reportedly reached last 14 May 2024 in a meeting held at the Thai Defense Ministry, means the project will proceed instead of replacing the project with the acquisition of a Chinese-made frigate.

According to reports from Thailand, negotiators on the Thai side led by General Somsak Rungsita from the Thai Ministry of Defense, while the Chinese side includes representatives from the CSSC, the Bureau of Military Equipment and Technology Cooperation, and the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

Both parties agreed that replacing the S26T submarine with a frigate does not benefit the Royal Thai Navy, while also confirming that China cannot entirely return the payments already made by the Thai Government for the submarine due to expenses already incurred for its design and acquisition of parts and materials.

The two parties also mentioned that maintaining very good bilateral ties between the two countries was also a reason for continuing with the submarine deal, and instead the Chinese negotiators will recommend an offset package worth hundreds of millions of Baht by providing additional support systems including a training simulator for the RTN, as well as insurance and training for the RTN’s personnel, and China purchasing Thai agricultural products as part of payments for the submarine.

The Thai defense ministry will submit the recommendation to the Thai Cabinet to amend the original contract, which will include allowing the use of the Chinese-made CHD620 marine diesel engine, as well as extending the delivery period for another 1,200 days.

[1] The Nation Thailand

[2] Naval News

Thailand to recommend continuing stalled submarine project with China Thailand to recommend continuing stalled submarine project with China Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on May 20, 2024 Rating: 5

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