Cabinet mulls buying subs
The navy's plan to buy submarines has been proposed to the cabinet for consideration, according to navy commander Kraisorn Jansuwanit.
The matter is now in the hands of the Secretariat of the Cabinet, and it should be forwarded to the cabinet soon, Adm Kraisorn said.
The navy has set up a committee to decide which country will manufacture the submarines for Thailand, he said. The panel is chaired by Adm Narongpol na Bangchang, assistant navy chief.
The navy chief said the panel will look at systems, maintenance and training for the submarines.
The move comes after some people in the navy raised concerns over a reported proposal to purchase Chinese submarines.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said before he visited China earlier this month that he would discuss a plan to buy two submarines for 36 billion baht with his Chinese counterpart during his visit.
However, several navy sources said the Chinese submarines may not be reliable.
Yesterday, Adm Kraisorn said he had visited China to inspect Yuan-class submarines, which have Russian-made parts.
The navy chief indicated that the submarine procurement might take five to six years, when they take into account the construction of the vessels and the training of personnel. However, he insisted if the project does not start now, it may take longer for the vessels to be commissioned.
Adm Kraisorn said Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have had submarines for several years, and he considers submarines to be a strategic means to develop the armed forces. It is the duty of the navy to propose the project to the government, he said, adding that the navy is ready to give an explanation about the project for transparency.
The panel will look at submarines from several countries and make a decision within three months, the source said. It will visit South Korea, China, Russia, Germany and Sweden to look at their submarines.