Navy chief Adm Choengchai Chomchoengpaet said yesterday he would seek the cabinet's approval for the purchase of a Chinese submarine equipped with a Chinese-made engine, although the government may consider other options.
The Thai navy has agreed to the installation of a Chinese-made CHD620 engine in the S26T Yuan-class submarine it ordered from China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC). The navy has already inspected and approved the engine, ensuring both its safety and efficiency, said Adm Choengchai.
To further support the selection of the Chinese engine, CSOC has extended the submarine engine warranty from two to eight years. This warranty will cover spare parts and involve the deployment of Chinese officials to support the submarine's maintenance during the eight-year period, which includes potential submarine upgrades, the navy chief said.
He stressed the critical need for the navy to obtain its first submarine to enhance maritime security and reinforce its operations in the Southeast Asia region.
On the possibility of the new government negotiating for a German-made engine for the Chinese submarine project, as originally planned, or buying a German submarine instead, Adm Choengchai said Germany had declined to sell its engine for a Chinese-made submarine. A new procurement project could exceed the navy's budget, he added. The navy had earlier expressed interest in Germany's MTU396 diesel engine for the submarine project.
Adm Choengchai said he would try to finalise the navy's submarine request for the new government within the next week, as he is set to retire at the end of this month. Construction of the ordered Chinese submarine has already begun and would take nearly three more years to complete if the Chinese-made engine is approved, he said.