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Thailand belays submarine deal with China, and eyes a frigate instead

24th October 2023 - 02:16 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Christchurch

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Thailand has decided to indefinitely suspend plans to obtain an S26T submarine from China. (Photo: Gordon Arthur)

Thailand has virtually given up on its S26T submarine, but will maintain close relations with China through buying a frigate instead.

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has suspended plans to procure a Yuan-class-based S26T diesel-electric submarine for THB13.5 billion (US$430 million) from China. Instead, it will divert attention to a Chinese-built frigate optimised for ASW tasks.

On 20 October, Thailand defence minister Sutin Klungsang announced the decision to use the submarine budget for a frigate instead. 

‘The submarine project is not scrapped but will be shelved for a certain period,’ he said. ‘It will resume when the country is ready.’

Sutin noted that Sino-Thai strategic cooperation was too important for the sale to be scuttled completely and that purchasing a frigate was

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Gordon Arthur

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Gordon Arthur


Gordon Arthur was the Asia Pacific editor for Shephard Media. Born in Scotland and educated …

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