Thai navy opts for China-made subs

BANGKOK - The Thai navy plans to buy three submarines costing 12 billion baht (S$477 million) each from China, with members of the procurement committee saying they offered the "best value for money".

Most members of the 17-strong committee voted to purchase the Chinese submarines, while the rest were split between German- and South Korean-made subs, reported the Bangkok Post.

The navy also evaluated offers from Russia, Sweden and France.

A source on the procurement committee said China shut out the competition as it offered submarines with superior weaponry and technology. Also, its submarines are able to stay underwater longer.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wonsuwon has backed the project in the light of a perceived territorial threat and an increasing number of maritime missions at a time when many neighbouring countries are also deploying submarines.

He said he would forward the procurement decision to the Cabinet for approval once it became available.

A navy source quoted General Prawit as saying that if the submarines were not bought by the current government, the navy might not get the chance to acquire them again.

The navy had considered the purchase of six German submarines in 2011 for 7.7 billion baht, but the project was scrapped by the then Yingluck Shinawatra government.

The acquisition plans were revived after the May 22 military coup last year amid speculation that China would win the contract amid strengthening relations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'Thai navy opts for China-made subs'. Print Edition | Subscribe