The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) is conducting an evaluation process of the CHD620 diesel engines to power the S26T submarine that the Southeast Asian country is ordering from China. The decision was a result of a meeting between the China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. (CSOC) and the RTN on Tuesday (Aug. 9).
If the result of the evaluation process is satisfactory, the RTN will request CSOC to send the CHD620 engines to Thailand for further testing.
“But if the substitute from CSOC cannot pass the test, the contract must be terminated, and the two sides will have to hold talks to discuss compensation or a refund,” said RTN spokesperson Vice Admiral Pokkrong Monthatphalin as quoted from the Bangkok Post on Wednesday (Aug. 10).
“However, the RTN would prefer not to completely reset the process, if possible,” he added.
CSOC is the trading arm of the Chinese state-owned enterprise China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), the company which builds the submarine under a THB13.5 billion (about USD380 million) contract from the RTN that was signed in 2017.
CSIC stated that the S26T submarine it’s building for Thailand will be powered by the MTU396 diesel engines made in Germany. However, it was later revealed that CSIC has requested to alter the contract by replacing them with Chinese-made CHD620 engines due to the difficulty in acquiring the MTU396s. This request was later rejected by the RTN citing that the Chinese engines are still new and untested.
The CSIC’s difficulty to obtain the engines from Germany was due to the European Union (EU) military sanctions against China which were already in place since 1989 following the Tiananmen Square massacre. To make matters more complicated, an official in Germany’s embassy in Bangkok said in February that Beijing has not made any attempt to coordinate with Berlin before signing the RTN’s submarine deal.
If the RTN approves CHD620 engines as the replacement for its S26T submarine’s powerplants, Thailand will be the first country to deploy these engines in active military duty.
RTN’s S26T submarine project envisions a combined diesel and Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) powered attack submarine with a displacement of 2,600 tonnes. This submarine can be armed with 16 torpedoes and/or 30 sea mines. Its specification further calls for a maximum speed of 18 knots and a 20-days underwater endurance.
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