High costs may delay Thai navy’s submarine plan

Bangkok, Oct 1 (IANS) Thailand navy’s 36 billion baht (about $988 million) plan to purchase three submarines from China may have to be delayed or even reviewed, navy chief Admiral Na Areenij said on Thursday.

The new navy chief insisted that submarines are a necessary capability. However, he understood that the economy is in a downturn with many limitations placed on the government in meeting the needs of people in every sector, the Bangkok Post reported.

This could affect the navy’s bid for a submarine fleet, he said.

“We have to build opportunity from crisis. The navy will look to improving its knowledge, expertise and tactics. We have to increase the capability of our units under budget constraints. We may run short of funds, but we still can make improvements,” Adm Na said.

“During my two years as navy chief, I will try to make the navy a place of learning and knowledge,” he added.

Adm Na said if the submarines purchase plan was stalled, the navy would have an alternative to propose, but declined to elaborate, saying he is yet to discuss it with Prawit Wongsuwon, the deputy prime minister and defence minister.

The navy had submitted a proposal to acquire the submarines to the defence ministry, to be forwarded to the cabinet for consideration.

However, the proposal is still with the ministry at this stage, he said.

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