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Friday, January 1, 2010

Navy could sink B1bn on submarine

The navy is looking into the feasibility of buying submarines for military and economic security reasons, navy chief Kamthorn Pumhirun says.

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A feasibility committee has been set up to study submarine technology.

The navy will push for the purchase of the submarines, priced at 20 billion baht each, when there is enough money available.

In the meantime, Adm Kamthorn said, the navy might buy a second-hand submarine for training purposes.

The idea is to buy a used submarine costing less than a billion baht and recondition it.

"The reason for acquiring submarines is to fulfil our military strategy. It's not something we want to pursue on a whim," Adm Kamthorn said.

The navy chief said neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam all had ordered submarines from Russia.

The submarines, he insisted, could serve many purposes and were a necessity.

The committee's task is to keep pace with developments in submarine technology.
"We want to make sure that once we are able to afford submarines, we'll be ready for them," Adm Kamthorn said.

He stressed that buying submarines would not lead to an arms race. Countries with the submarines would command strong bargaining power in international negotiations.

He said the country needed at least three or four submarines but initially there might only be enough money for one.

Adm Kamthorn said buying a submarine took a lot of planning as the navy would have to wait for three years for delivery after placing an order.

Thailand had four Japanese-made submarines in the past, but they were never replaced after decommissioning because newer models were too expensive. Adm Kamthorn said the submarines would help strengthen the economy. They would help safeguard the country's natural resources, fisheries, oil exploration, export cargoes and tourism. (Original News)