Does Thailand Really Need Submarines?
The Royal Thai Navy has outlined its reasons for wanting submarines. They’re not very convincing.
By Eugene Mark
BANGKOK: — The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) will seek Cabinet approval to purchase three Chinese-made Yuan class S26T submarines for 36 billion baht ($1 billion). Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan confirmed the news in July 2016.
The S26T submarines are diesel-powered with a displacement of 2,400-3,000 tonnes and equipped with weapons including torpedoes and sea mines. According to reports, China would also transfer knowledge on the submarine maintenance, systems, and weapons.
This is only one out of many attempts by the RTN to seek approval for submarine purchases. The RTN has been pursuing the purchase of submarines since the 1990s, but has not yet been able to obtain funding approval for submarine purchases because of the cabinet’s concerns over the cost of this purchase relative to the requirements for this capability. In order to convince the Thai public, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha had asked the RTN to explain the necessity of the submarine purchases. The RTN then released a nine-page document detailing the reasons for wanting to purchase submarines from China.