Decision on submarine deal only after talks, says Navy chief
The Royal Thai Navy is expected to make a decision on the Chinese submarine deal by the end of this month.
Commander-in-chief Admiral Somprasong Nilsamai said on Friday that the Navy will hold talks with the manufacturer China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) at the end of the month. The production of the Yuan-class S26T submarine came to a halt in early March when Germany blocked the export of the MTU396 diesel engine to China.
When asked if the Navy would consider changing the submarine’s engine, Somprasong only said he would wait for negotiation results first.
The admiral also chose not to confirm if the Navy will cancel the contract in line with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s earlier statement. Prayut had told the press that the contract should be cancelled if the engine is not the same as specified in the agreement. Somprasong only said things would become clearer after the negotiation.
Meanwhile, Navy chief of staff Admiral Thalerngsak Sirisawat said an agenda has been set for the negotiation with CSOC.
The Navy signed a 13.5-billion baht deal in 2017 with CSOC for the purchase of an S26T submarine fitted with MTU396 diesel engines from Germany’s Motor and Turbine Union Company.
However, Germany blocked the export in line with a European Union arms embargo imposed on China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.