Home > World News > Suthep defends purchase of old German U-boats [ They are ‘necessary to guard our territory’ ]

Suthep defends purchase of old German U-boats [ They are ‘necessary to guard our territory’ ]

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has defended the Royal Thai
Navy’s 7.7-billion-baht planned procurement of six second-hand
submarines, insisting it is necessary for maritime territory protection.
A monk sprinkles holy water on an MI-17 V5 helicopter at the delivery
ceremony of three choppers worth 998 million baht at the 11th Infantry
Regiment in Bangkok’s Bang Khen. JETJARAS NA RANONG
Mr Suthep, who is in charge of national security, said the navy
needed the submarines to guard the country’s maritime territory which
has natural resources and investment potential.
Some countries in the region have submarines and could pose a threat to the national interest, Mr Suthep said.
Thailand will be the fifth country in Southeast Asia to have
submarines if the ambitious purchase proposal is successful, following
Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has supported the Royal Thai Navy’s submarine purchase plan.
He said it was necessary for the navy to buy the submarines to train
navy staff and to defend the country, although, with limited funding,
the navy will have to settle for second-hand submarines.
A navy source had said previously Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
approved the purchase of the six second-hand submarines from Germany
for the first-ever missions to protect national interests in the
Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
The military operation, to be overseen by the navy’s new submarine
unit, will be carried out in conjunction with training exercises for
naval officers who will for the first time be trained in submarine
technology and underwater missions with Thai-owned submarines.
The six submarines are of the U-206 class. They are powered by
diesel engines and electric motors and are designed for coastal patrol
operations.
The German navy has used the six submarines for more than 30 years
and is going to decommission them. However, the source said they can
still be used for another 10 years.
A recent meeting between Mr Abhisit, Gen Prawit and navy
commander-in-chief Adm Kamthorn Pumhiran was “satisfactory” as the
premier supported the purchase, the source said.
It is part of a long-term weapons acquisition scheme granted by the
Abhisit government to the army, navy and air force. They are allowed to
draft plans to buy weapons over a 10-year period at a total cost of
more than 500 billion baht.
Meanwhile, Gen Prawit also joined army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha in
taking delivery of three Russian Mi-17V5 helicopters worth 998 million
baht at the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bang Khen yesterday.
They and other senior military officers boarded the helicopters for a test flight for 20 minutes.
After the flight, Gen Prawit said the helicopters had proved efficient and cost-effective.
Gen Prayuth has told the Army Aviation Centre to work on the details
of a plan to buy three more Mi-17V5 helicopters from Russia, Army
Aviation Centre director Phittaya Krachangwong said.
Maj Gen Phittaya said the army needed six of the helicopters but Gen
Prayuth suggested the newly acquired helicopters should first be used
for six months to see how efficient they are before the army decides if
it will buy another three of them.
Maj Gen Phittaya said the Russian-made helicopters may not be on a
par with those made in the US, but they are efficient enough and have
gained wide recognition. More than 20,000 of them are now in use in
some 80 countries, he said.
The idea of buying the Russian-made helicopters was initiated by
former army chief and leader of the 2006 coup Sonthi Boonyaratkalin.
The helicopters will be used for logistics and support purposes.
Bangkok Post
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Categories: World News
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