July 2, 2016

Thai Report of 3 Submarine buy - Not Yet Proven

The S26T that may have been ordered by Thailand may look like the S20 (or S-20) model displayed at an arms trade show in 2015. Note that it is being marketed by "CSOC" - which is the China Shipbuilding & Offshore international Co (CSOC) Ltd.

In an article that has yet to be proven the Bangkok Post, reports that on July 1, 2016 Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon “confirmed” the Thai Navy will buy three S26T (export derivative of Yuan class) submarines from China at 12 billion baht (US$342 million) each.


What makes my question the credibility is:

1.  there have been to numerous rumours and false starts on Thai submarine “done deals” for decades. So every word needs to be combed over.

2.  For example the July 1, 2016 Bangkok Post report also said: “all neighbouring countries had submarines including Myanmar, which had 10 brand-new ones”. 

This is incorrect. Neighbouring Myanmar and Cambodia have no subs. Myanmar has no proven orders for submarines and 10 would be excessive for such a small, poor, country. Near neighbours Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have no subs.

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.



MHalblaub said...

For what reason does Thailand need such a long range submarine? This type can carry 18 torpedoes about 10,000 nm.

May I mention Ula-class or Type 210? Just 14 torpedoes but for just $110 million (1989 - today ~$250 million). Less than half crew size required. Not to mention the fuel costs, reliability, maintenance costs, ...

S26T for $342 million for three submarines would be an acceptable price.


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

I think Thailand bought from China due to Thailand's overall relations with China (a regional/great power).

China may be puzzling what is a S26T? Because China has never had to built a S26T. I wonder if China will include AIP in the S26Ts.

I agree a TKMS Ula, 210 or new build 206 is likely to be better for Thailand's shallow water operating environment.

Actually on the shallow water issue, there was a very good Submarine Expert Letter to the Editor (of the Bangkok Post) on July 4, 2016 from someone called "Bob"
- see http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/postbag/1026885/prepare-for-subs :

"Re: "Prawit stands by submarine push", (BP, July 2). The fact the Gulf of Thailand is too shallow for effective submarine operations should not stand in the way of the proposed submarine purchase by the navy.

The entire Gulf should be dredged to a depth of 100 metres to allow submarines to operate effectively.

The dredged silt should be piled up in Bangkok and surrounding provinces to stop the city from being inundated in the next 50 years.

The governor of [Bangkok region] would agree, as instead of Bangkokians moving to the mountain, as suggested, the mountain would move to Bangkok.

The Chinese should manage the project, thus protecting their backyard.

The navy finally gets its subs. An all-round perfect solution."

Bob the Great should clearly be appointed Thailand's new Minister of Infrastructure, Chief of Navy, Foreign Minister

and maybe even Prime Minister?


Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
What about the Type 035B/G MIng class SSK that Bangladesh is getting. It would be far cheaper and easier for Thailand to get started before going to a Kilo class SSK. I know Improved Kilo class SSK's are cheaper and they can get plenty in stock from Russia.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Bangladesh seems to want an ultra-cheap submarine so will settle for the 50 year old Ming design https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_035_submarine .

Thailand (or at least the Thai Navy) wants subs designed later - that are more comparable with Malaysia's Scorpenes and Vietnam's Kilos, though falling short of Singapore's Archers and 218s.

But Kilos are much larger subs (not good in Thailand's mainly shallow seeas) with higher known maintenance costs. India apparently found that Russia's after sale service isn't so hot.

Russia doesn't appear to be on Thailand's sub buying shortlist which was apparently China, Germany, South Korea.

Also see my latest article on Thailand today http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2016/07/need-for-caution-proven-over-thai.html



Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
I think if Thailand really wanted submarines, they should have gone for the cheaper Type 035 Ming class SSK, to start them off and build the skills for later submarines. Though if they have the CASH, I would say a Type 210mod or the Type 214 for them.