Thai Navy in deal to buy 2nd hand submarines
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has approved a plan for the Royal Thai Navy to purchase six second-hand submarines from Germany for 7.7 billion baht (257 million dollars), a newspaper reported Monday.
The six German 500 ton U-206A class submarines were reportedly decommissioned ahead of a round of swinging defence cuts planned for the German military. The retirement of these 6 submarines means that Germany only has four operational U-212A class submarines in the active fleet.
The U-206 Class subs, which are intended for missions in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, would constitute Thailand’s first submarine fleet, to be commanded by Rear Admiral Suriya Pornsuriya, the Bangkok Post said.
The Thai navy has had submarines on its wish list for many years. It commissioned its first aircraft carrier, the HTMS Chakri Naruebet, in 1997.
The submarine purchase is part of a long-term plan by the Abhisit government to buy weapons for the army, navy and air force over 10 years at a total cost of more than 500 billion baht.
Military budgets in Thailand have sky-rocketed since the army overthrew the government in 2006. Since then, the military has reasserted its pivotal role in Thai politics although civilian governance was restored in 2008.
Previous plans to deploy submarines have been criticized on the grounds that the Gulf of Thailand was too shallow for their effective use.
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