On Monday, Thai Defense Minister Sutin Klungsang declared that he was prepared to discuss the rationale behind the RTN’s decision to purchase a frigate from China rather than a submarine.
The head of the House committee on military affairs, Move Forward Party MP Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, demanded an explanation from the Navy chief on Sunday as to whether the decision had been reversed because the Chinese shipbuilder had breached the contract. If that was the case, he questioned why the RTN didn’t just cancel the contract and demand a return of the seven billion baht they already forked them.
Meanwhile, Sutin stated on Monday that he was prepared to personally explain the situation to the committee and the head of the House panel.
According to Sutin, the Chinese shipyard’s adjustment should be viewed as noncompliance rather than a breach of contract.
“I don’t regard this as a violation of the contract, except that it simply did not turn out as agreed upon,” Sutin said.
He clarified that this was a pact between governments, and that strategic cooperation was taken into account alongside the trade agreement.
In 2017, the RTN agreed to a contract for the acquisition of an S26T Yuan-class submarine, which required the installation of a diesel engine manufactured in Germany. However, the use of such engines in Chinese military equipment is banned in Germany.
Later, the RTN decided to purchase a frigate capable of fighting submarines rather than accept Beijing’s suggestion to utilize a Chinese-made engine on the submarine.
Costing 17 billion baht, the new frigate project is 1 billion baht more than the original submarine acquisition.
Sutin has stated that Thailand will not be losing anything from this transaction because the frigate is worth the additional cost.
He claimed that every aspect of the situation was taken into account, including the potential legal ramifications.
This, he remarked, “is the best way out” they could see.