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RTN Postpones New Frigate, to Switch Submarine to OPV

Our Bureau - : Apr 2, 2024 - : 2:49 am

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) faces a setback as its new frigate program gets postponed due to a substantial cut of 17 billion baht (approximately USD 465 million) in the 2024 fiscal year budget sanctioned by the country’s parliament. Initially slated to involve collaboration between Thailand’s local shipyards and one leading foreign defence company from South Korea, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, or Turkey, the program is now projected for launch in the 2026 financial year.

Simultaneously, the RTN leans towards scrapping the S26T submarine project with China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. Ltd (CSOC) and pivoting towards a surface combatant, likely an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV). The submarine program has hit a roadblock due to Germany’s refusal to supply the essential MTU 396 diesel engine required to power the submarine to CSOC – a trading subsidiary of the state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).

A recent report from Thailand’s defence media AAG suggest that some Chinese outlets attribute the cancellation not to CSOC’s failure in securing the engine, but rather to the RTN’s reluctance to fulfil the remaining financial obligations under the contract, amounting to approximately 8 billion baht (about USD 218 million). Despite offers from the Chinese company to substitute the originally specified MTU 396 engine with the Chinese-made CHD620 diesel engine, the Thai government has declined.

Negotiations are still ongoing between the Thailand Ministry of Defence and CSOC to resolve this impasse.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons.


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