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Thailand submarine ‘offered to Indonesia’

China has reportedly offered to sell Indonesia a half-built submarine, initially ordered by Thailand, and claims it can include a German-made engine if Jakarta prefers.

This news, reported by Janes, an authoritative source on military, national security, and transport topics, comes despite Thailand’s assertions that its troubled deal to acquire the Chinese submarine is back on track. Thai Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang stated in May that negotiations would conclude in one or two months.

Officials from China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) visited Jakarta’s Ministry of Defence on June 28, according to Janes. During their visit, the officials presented how the S26T diesel-electric submarine could be customized for the Indonesian navy’s needs, even though it has already been partially constructed.

CSSC officials assured Indonesia that the offer would not face the same export restrictions that affected the Royal Thai Navy. The original contract, signed by Thailand in May 2017, required a German-made diesel engine. However, Germany later refused to sell the engine to China due to its classification as a military item under a European Union embargo.

Beijing has been trying to convince Thailand to accept a Chinese-built generator instead of the German engine, without incurring penalties for breach of contract.

In Jakarta, the Chinese delegation stated that Indonesia could choose an engine from any vendor, including Germany-based MTU, Janes reported.

The offer to Indonesia also includes a modification package enabling the S26T to deploy and launch Chinese-made YJ-18 torpedo tube-launched anti-ship cruise missiles.

China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) was originally contracted in 2017 to build the submarine for 13.5 billion baht under a government-to-government agreement with Thailand. Construction was reportedly halfway completed before delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the engine issue.

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