Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA May-June 2017 Contents Navy, Rear Admiral Lai Chung Han at the 15th
Asia Pacific Submarine Conference Opening
Ceremony in 2015.
Thailand’s was the first navy in the region to
operate submarines, running four Japanese
made boats from 1938 – 1951. Although that
experience was lost for over 60 years, Thailand
is looking to change that with a new capability
expansion programme for the Royal Thai Navy
(RTN) where the RTN hopes to operate three
submarines by 2026.
13.5 billion baht (US $383 million) was
earmarked and approved earlier this January to
purchase the first of three China Shipbuilding
& Offshore International China (CSIC) Type
039A/041 Yuan-class SSKs, designated locally as
the S26T. China first offered their Type 039 Song-
class in 2007 but the deal was turned down by the
Thai government due to a lack of infrastructure.
Other possibilities were the Swedish Saab AB
A26, Russia’s Project 636 Kilo, the Type 209 from
Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and
Hyundai’s HDS-500RTN from South Korea. DRA
understands that initial discussions for two German
submarines fell through in 2015, and the Chinese
stepped up the offer with three boats including
technology transfer, training and weapons. Thai
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o -cha said the last boat
would be paid for by the Chinese government, as a
‘gift to Thailand’.
The total programme will still cost Thailand
around US $1.02 billion, the largest military
procurement in the Kingdom’s history.
It was revealed by CSIC that the S26T would
feature improvements from the base Type 041
submarine. The S26T will have a submerged
displacement of 2,600 tonnes, is 79.5 metres long,
with a beam of 8.6 metres and maximum speed
of 18 knots. Although the weapon systems are
not confirmed at press time, the Yuan-class has
six-533mm torpedo tubes and submarine launched
Taking reference from the same package sold to
Pakistan, CSIC said that these boats are expected
to take two to three years to design and another
five to construct. Completed, they will be the
largest SSKs to operate in ASEAN waters.
Former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono laid out in 2008 the Minimum Essential
Force (MEF) plan for the Indonesian Armed Forces
(TNI), including the Navy (TNI-AL). The MEF aims
for the TNI-AL to possess 154 naval vessels by
2024, including at least 10 submarines to protect
the country’s waters and interests.
The world’s largest archipelago currently
operates two Type 209/1300-class, that were
commissioned in 1981. Known as the Cakra-class,
these boats have undergone numerous refits
initially by Germany’s Howaldtswerke-Deutsche
Werft and later Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding &
Marine Engineering (DSME). The more recent
refits since 2005 saw extensive modernisation of
the combat system, overhaul of engines, hull and
radar system on the two boats. The Cakra-class are
slated for decommissioning by 2020.
In January 2011, the TNI-AL announced an
acceleration of their submarine programme and
by December the same year, the Defence Ministry
signed a deal for three South Korean DMSE
Improved Chang-Bogo-class (license build Type
209/1300) worth around US $1.07 billion. The
first two submarines, KRI Nagapasa and KRI
Ardadedali were already launched in March and
October 2016, and the third will be assembled in
Indonesia's state-owned PT PAL Surabaya yard.
However, Indonesia delayed the deliveries of
the boats as infrastructure to accommodate the
submarines is still not ready.
The Improved Chang-Bogo-class are outfitted
with Atlas Electronic CSU 90 hull-mounted
passive and active search-and-attack sonar and
flank sonar, Indra's Pegaso RESM system and
Aries Low Probability of Intercept (LPI) radar,
Sagem's Sigma 40XP inertial navigation system
and L-3's MAPPS integrated platform management
system. The Improved Chang-Bogo-class are
integrated with sub-Harpoon missile firing
capability, however it is uncertain if the TNI-AL
will exercise this option since the primary anti-ship
missiles of the TNI-AL are the Exocet MM40 and
The government highlighted in late May 2016
that they are interested in acquiring two Russian
Underwater operations in South East Asia present different sets of
challenges for both the submariners and anti-submarine operators.
DefenceReviewAsia | MAY/JUNE 2017 11
To be purchased by Indonesia: Korea's Chang Bogo-class submarine ROKS Lee Eokgi (SS 071).
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class N. Brett Morton/Released
The total programme will still cost Thailand around US $1.02 billion, the
largest military procurement in the Kingdom’s history.
DRA MayJune 2017.indd 11
27/04/2017 4:09 PM
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