Defence brass raise scope on sub training
China could host naval officers for basic course
Naval officers may be sent to China to receive submarine training, a Defence Ministry source says.
Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat has proposed naval officers receive basic submarine training in China.
ACM Sukumpol and armed forces leaders toured the Qingdao Submarine School at the weekend, and thought that offering instruction to naval officers would be a good idea.
They inspected Type 039 Song Class attack submarines.
Any officers sent to China for training will have to take Chinese language lessons first.
The source said the training should not be construed as Thailand expressing interest in buying Chinese submarines in the future.
The Defence Ministry recently scrapped a navy plan to buy six second-hand submarines worth a total of 7 billion baht from Germany. It failed to obtain cabinet approval by the Feb 29 deadline set by Berlin.
ACM Sukumpol said the Song Class submarine which he observed had a rather crammed interior but is technologically advanced.
He said the ministry was still interested in buying submarines and was in the process of compiling information about them.
The navy will study submarines in commission in Europe, South Korea and Singapore.
ACM Sukumpol said the ministry has not set a requirement as to whether the navy should procure new or second-hand submarines.
"China is like family. We are sincere with each other," the defence minister said. ACM Sukumpol added Thailand would not meddle with any conflicts within the region.
Navy chief Surasak Roonroengrom said the navy cannot afford to buy new submarines costing between 10-20 billion baht each.
"I'm afraid the chances of the navy getting the submarines have diminished," he said, referring to the failed deal with Germany.