The Thai Navy has confirmed that it will pay 36 billion baht (US$1.1 billion for three submarines from China equipped with air independent (AIP) propulsion.
The Chinese submarines won the bid against reputable manufacturers from Russia, Germany, Sweden and South Korea as it offered the best value for money.
Confirming the purchase, Thai Navy chief Adm Kraisorn Chansuvanich said on Wednesday the committee tasked with choosing submarines had voted 14-3 in favour of Chinese models. "The committee was not influenced by anyone. Its members are modern, smart officers," he was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan was quoted in the local media as saying, “we did so after looking at submarines of various countries and found China’s to be the best value. We had to look at the price, quality and other aspects.” Prawit did not say when the submarines might be delivered. The purchase decision will now go to the cabinet for approval.
For the price, Thailand will receive three submarines plus weapons and training for the Royal Thai Navy’s Submarine Squadron that was launched at Sattahip naval base in Chon Buri province last year. In comparison, rival manufacturers were only willing to give two submarines without any weapons.
The submarines are believed to be the S 20, the export version of the Type 039A which carry an AIP propulsion system, allowing the subs to remain under water for a longer time compared to conventional diesel-electric submarines. They carry a variety of weapons including torpedoes, and vertical launch missiles besides sensors to detect intruding ships and submarines.