July 5, 2016

Need for Caution Proven Over Thai Defence Minister's July 2 Submarine Statement

From "confirmation" that Thailand was buying three Chinese submarines the Thai Defence Minister (above) says the proposed purchase: "still needed to get approval from the cabinet." and it had only "been approved by the majority of all committees scrutinising the project.."

Please note in my article Thai Report of 3 Submarine buy - Not Yet Proven of July 2, 2016 I urged caution over the tentative Thai Defence Minister's "confirmation" that Thailand would buy three Chinese S26T submarines.  In that article on July 2, 2016 I said:

"3.  The Defence Minister merely “confirmed”. He did not announce such a major purchase.

4.  Best to wait until the wording has changed to a more convincing the “Thai Cabinet has decided” and “the Prime Minister has announced”.

Until then this latest report of a Thai submarine purchase lacks weight."


By July 4, 2016 the need for caution was proven when the Thai Defence Minister clarified the situation. Thai PBS, July 4, 2016 reports that the Thai Defence Minister said:

"but it [the proposed purchase] still needed to get approval from the cabinet." 

Furthermore the Defence Minister later says earlier "confirmation" is also now only "been approved by the majority of all committees scrutinising the project.."


The Thai Government (and within it the Thai Navy) seems to again be floating the idea of a submarine purchase due to the need to:

-  gauge all-important Army feeling (as the Army is dominat in the Government after the 2014 Coup).
   A measure of the Army's power is that the Defence Minister and Prime Minister (he is still of
   "active military" age) are "retired" Generals. 
-  gauge public feeling about the possible purchase. Given public sentiment opposed the idea in 
   2015 due to the high cost and low perceived usefulness of the proped 3 Chinese submarines.
-  gauge the attitudes and confidential pressure from Western government (especially US, India and
-  get even better prices and offers from the shortlist of submarine sellers: China, Germany and
   South Korea. 

Just tentatively floating the idea, without formal Cabinet Approval, provides a face-saving way out for the Thai Government and Navy if the above groups reject the submarine proposal (again).



Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
Basically, I think Thailand is looking for an SSK Submarine to act as a Cruise Missile platform. They want a Sub that can launch Cruise missiles.

Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
If Thailand wanted submarines, how come Thailand didn't talk to spain on taking the Agosta class SSK off their hands. Spain is replacing the Agosta class Submarines with S-80 class Submarines.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Your 6/7/16 5:04 AM - no, unlikely.

Your 6/7/16 7:24 AM . As Spain has not proven itself a successful, independent submarine builder (S-80s still unfinished + with problems) Spain would unlikely be able to sponsor Agostas for Thailand.

Used subs generally problematic. Hence Thais don't want them. Though 206s, if available, would have been dandy.



Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

HI pete,
This may interest you from the Diplomat magazine.

Is Thailand Now Serious About Submarines from China?
Despite some encouraging signs, lingering concerns persist.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky [at 7/7/16 4:21 AM]

Yes Sub Matters and then Diplomat agree on most things.