IMDEX 2023: New Chinese-built LPD arrives in Thailand
The Royal Thai Navy took delivery of the ship a little under four years after signing a contract for the single Type 071E LPD in September 2019.
As denoted by the ‘E’, the vessel is an export version of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) Type 071 LPD.
The export ship is the ninth of the vessel type built by China, eight of which have been delivered to the PLAN.
The new ship, HTMS Chang, arrived in Thailand having been escorted to the country by a number of other Royal Thai Navy ships, including HTMS Narathiwat.
After arriving in Thailand, the new LPD will have radar and weapons systems fitted. It is understood that the Thai ship will carry a Western-supplied radar.
At the time, the sale of the vessel made it China’s first LPD export and largest warship sale, even ahead of the helicopter carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet.
Measuring 210m in length, the LPD is Thailand’s largest ship and weighs in at over 20,000t.
Unlike the PLAN vessels, the export variant has a larger flight deck able to operate three MH-60 Seahawk-sized helicopters simultaneously.
The Type 071E also has a shorter docking bay but a larger vehicle deck when compared to the PLAN version of the ship.
The deal with China for the ship is worth a reported $200.5 million.
Thailand has increasingly looked to China for military equipment in the past decade following a 2012 strategic partnership.
China is also building new submarines for the Royal Thai Navy derived from the PLAN’s Yuan-class Type 039/041 boats.
As of this January, Thailand had ordered one of the submarines from China.
HTMS Chang doubles the size of Thailand's large LPD fleet, which already includes a Singaporean-built Endurance-class vessel.
The LPD could also be used to support the operations of Thailand’s other Chinese-built LPDs once those enter service.
Thailand has a long-term goal to procure a fleet of four LPDs and is among a number of regional countries to operate Chinese-built ships.
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