Sutin reveals 'other options' to solve Chinese submarine engine issue

Sutin reveals 'other options' to solve Chinese submarine engine issue

Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang
Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang

Other options, such as a barter trade deal or buying of fertilisers from China instead of a submarine, are being mulled to solve the problem related to the navy's submarine procurement, Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang said.

He was speaking at a seminar on Thai security and geopolitical challenges, organised by Rangsit University's College of Social Innovation on Saturday.

Asked about the navy's submarine engine issue, Mr Sutin said he told the navy to take into account whether the procurement was necessary.

If the navy finds a Chinese-made engine unacceptable, it must hold talks with China to find a solution, such as buying a surface ship or scrapping the contract and importing fertiliser from China at lower prices instead, Mr Sutin said.

''Other options, such as a barter trade deal, should be considered. But we still have to look at whether these options are in line with the law."

However, there is no conclusion on the matter and further talks must be held to find a better solution, Mr Sutin said.

''We may hold talks with China and ask for fertilisers. The matter will be presented for consideration by the prime minister,'' Mr Sutin said.

Mr Sutin previously said he was optimistic the incoming government will be able to reach a fresh deal with Germany and China on the engine to be used in Thailand's new submarine that is being assembled in China.

Such a deal would be a win-win for all three sides, said Mr Sutin, when asked about the possibility of the government negotiating with Berlin for a German-made engine to be installed in the China-made submarine, as initially requested by the Royal Thai Navy.

The S26T Yuan-class submarine was originally due to be delivered to Thailand this month, but the pandemic has postponed its delivery to next April.

China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) -- which is contracted to build the submarine under a G2G agreement -- offered a CHD620 engine after Germany refused to sell its MTU 396 diesel engine to China as it is designated a military-defence item.

Details of military reform should become clearer on Wednesday when he appears for work at the Defence Ministry, he said.

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