Thailand has made provision in the 2017 fiscal budget for part payment of the first Chinese Yuan Class submarine worth 13.5 billion Baht (US$ 37 million) the bill for which has already been approved by the National Legislative Assembly.
“The Yuan Class S26T, the first of three Chinese-manufactured submarines Thailand wishes to buy, will be purchased in accordance with the procurement time frame,” Gen Prawit, Thailand’s deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister was quoted as saying by Bangkokpost Saturday.
The terms of reference (ToR) will be drafted after receiving approval from the cabinet, he said. Gen Prawit said he believed the Royal Thai Navy will submit the purchase proposal to the ministry soon and it will be forwarded to the cabinet approval.
It is expected the first vessel would be ready to enter service in six years' time, sources said. Gen Prawit's comment followed criticism the submarine purchase was being dragged out and that a purchase proposal had not been forwarded to the cabinet for approval yet.
Gen Prawit said the navy has secured 13.5 billion baht to purchase the first boat. Part of the cost has been included in the Royal Thai Navy's allocation in the 2017 Budget Bill already approved by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), he said.
Further payments will be stretched out over the next seven years. Payment for the other two boats should be completed within 11 years.
Also, the cabinet has acknowledged the project would be going ahead since August last year, he said. A navy source said the purchase of the Yuan Class S26T, the first of three submarines which the navy intends to acquire at a total cost of 36 billion baht, should be made sometime this year. All three submarines are expected to be in service within 11 years.