Thailand’s submarine engine talks stall again

Thailand’s submarine engine talks have stalled again. The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has still not decided on how to power an S26T Yuan-class submarine being assembled in China.

The choice remains the same – a Chinese-made engine or an unobtainable German-made one.

Germany’s embargo on sales of military equipment, which it initiated in the wake of WWII, prevented the sale of the chosen engine and since then China has been trying to fob off a domestically-made substitute.

The long-running saga began in February, when the Pheu Thai party’s Yuttapong Charasathien demanded that the submarine should come with an engine. He also questioned the credibility of the Chinese specialists who were to take control of submarine pier construction because they were registered with the Ministry of Labour as language teachers.

In April, the PM himself waded in, saying…

“What do we do with a submarine with no engine? Why should we purchase it? If the agreement can’t be fulfilled, we have to figure out what to do. Isn’t that how we solve a problem?”

Vice Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin said the RTN met with representatives from the submarine’s manufacturer, China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC), on Tuesday for three days of talks on the submarine’s engine. China’s military attaché joined the meetings.

During the meetings, CSOC presented the RTN with information regarding the capacity and performance of the Chinese CHD620 engine. For their part, the RTN informed the Chinese side that minds are still being made up on the matter.

Pokkrong said that the RTN had neither agreed nor rejected the offer. A team plans to visit China before April of next year, to observe a test of the engine.

The RTN also imposed a new condition before agreeing to consider the CSOC offer, saying that to replace the German engine, the Chinese version must meet Chinese navy standards. The process of getting the CHD620 engine certified to meet these standards is expected to take until June next year.

Only after all these procedures are complete will the RTN compile a report to be submitted to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha – or his replacement – for consideration. No further decision on the submarine engine can be made without the PM’s say-so.

Pokkrong said…

“The RTN insists that the state budget allocated to it will be spent efficiently and in the best interests of the country.”

China NewsPolitics News

Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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