Navy mulls postponing frigate plan

Navy mulls postponing frigate plan

The navy is likely to postpone its plan to purchase a second frigate worth 15 billion baht as it mulls to purchase a second submarine in the 2020 fiscal year, an informed source said.

According to the source, the navy is expected to drop the frigate procurement scheme as it weighs in the benefit of buying of a second submarine from China.

The submarine, if purchased, will be the second out of the three submarines that the government is planning to purchase. Payment for the second submarine will be spread across seven years, with the final payment for all three submarines due by 2030.

The purchase is a part of the navy's 36-billion-baht long-term plan to procure three diesel-electric submarines from China, which has already been approved in principle by the cabinet.

The procurment of the first submarine -- a Yuan-class S26T submarine valued at 13.5 billion baht from China -- was approved by the cabinet on April 18, 2017. Payment for the first submarine is divided into 17 installments over seven years from 2017.

As a part of its long-term plan, the navy had been looking to purchase a second frigate, valued at 15 billion baht, following the arrival of a 14.6-billion-baht South Korean-built frigate, HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej, in January this year.

The source also said the navy has yet to decide on the defence contractor to outfit the 6.1-billion-baht landing platform dock (LPD) it recently bought from China with weapons.

The LPD is an amphibious transport ship complete with landing crafts to transport troops ashore. The 20,000-tonne vessel was purchased to ease the burden on HTMS Angthong.

Navy chief Adm Luechai Ruddit said yesterday the navy is considering various options, including the CX-1 supersonic anti-ship and cruise missiles from China.

"I'm not sure about the price [of the missiles], but I hope we get a special discount," he said.

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