In September 2012 the Thai government approved the purchase of two medium-sized frigates with a budget of 1 billion U.S. dollars after denying allegation about the country's navy persistent request for submarines. The ships will beef up the capability of the Thai maritime force in patrolling the country's territorial waters in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea.
The 1-billion-US dollar fund, approved by the Yingluck Cabinet for the procurement of the frigates, is to be spent for a 10-year period, beginning from current fiscal year. The two frigates are unlikely be procured at the same time. The procurement of the frigates will supposedly take place in two phases: in the first, one frigate for 15bn Baht ($488m) during the fiscal years of 2012-2016 and during the second phase, another one for 15bn Baht during the fiscal years of 2014-2018. The navy is reportedly looking for ships with an approximate 4,000-ton displacement, which might be either brand-new or secondhand, depending on specifications and preferences of the commanding admirals.
The two frigates to be acquired will replace two US-made, Knox-class frigates, namely HTMS Phutthayodfa Chulalok and HTMS Phutthalertla Napalai, both scheduled to be decommissioned in 2015, Defense Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said. The two frigates would be capable of engaging in three possible combat scenarios with simultaneous maneuverability: anti-aircraft, anti-surface ship and anti-submarine warfare.
One possible candidate was China's Type 054A "Jiangkai II" frigates, featuring 4,000-ton displacement, 30-knot speed, 8,000- nautical mile maneuverable range. The Chinese ships cost about 255 million U.S. dollars each. The Thai navy had four secondhand Type 053T "Jianghu" frigates, built in China, which have 2,400-ton displacement, 32- knot speed and 4,000-nautical mile range.
The Thai navy was also considering a German-made, Bremen-class F122 frigate with a 3,700- ton displacement, 30-knot speed and 4,000-nautical mile range. The German navy planned to decommission and replace the F122 frigates with more sophisticated F125 Baden-Wurttemberg-class frigates in 2016.
Navy Chief Admiral Surasak Rounroengrom denied media reports that they prefer frigates made in China than those made in Germany. The admiral said that the navy is still waiting for studies and suggestions by an ad hoc procurement committee to decide where these frigates should be procured. The navy, which had been earlier reported to be interested in buying a fleet of four second-hand U-206A submarines from Germany, will meticulously consider the German-made frigates but it is not also discounting the China option.
As to the weapon systems to be fitted in the chosen frigates, the Thai navy is said to be interested in Chinese-made C-802A surface-to-surface missiles as well as US-made Harpoon surface-to- surface missiles and US-made Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles. Thailand currently deploys guided missiles acquired from China and the U.S. on its frigates and corvettes.
In January 2013 the Thai government formed a committee to negotiate with a Chinese team on purchase of three frigates to enhance Thai’s naval strength in the resource-rich Gulf of Thailand. Both sides will work out details of the state-to-state frigate purchase agreement the groundwork of which was laid during the visit of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to Thailand in November 2012.
The Thai government approved the purchase of two medium-sized frigates with a budget of 1 billion U.S. dollars after denying allegation about the countrys navy persistent request for submarines. However, Beijing had offered three of its Type 054T frigates at a very lower rate and the number of the frigates on conditions that Bangkok could not ignore. Some source said these special offer include six Z-9EC ASW helicopters. The armed forced division had planned to utilize budgetary allocations of the US$1 billion fund, approved by the Yingluck Cabinet for the procurement of the frigates over a 10-year period, beginning from current fiscal year. The three frigates were unlikely be procured at the same time.
Type 054T frigate may be an improved version of the Type 054A frigate, possibly designated F40T, for which discussions have been held between Thailand and China. Commissioning of the type 054T frigates would help the capability of the Thai maritime force in Anti-submarine warfare in the Gulf of Thailand, the dimensions of which had changed in the last decade. Malaysia plans to acquire two more Scorpène class submarines and Vietnam recently purchased six Kilo class submarines from Russia, with the delivery of all six submarines will be completed before 2016. Thailand is still running a legal battle against Malaysia, over their maritime boundary. Rumors of a Cambodian submarine project seem unfounded.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of Korea said 23 April 2013 through an inquired disclosure regarding a DW3000H frigate ordered from Thailand on April 22 that Daewoo was chosen as a priority negotiator for a frigate of the Royal Thai Navy and they are in talks on specific contract terms. Daewoo added that it would release another regulatory filing when the contract is finalized or within a month from then. Meanwhile, according to industry sources and a foreign press, Daewoo has been chosen as a preferred bidder for a KRW 500bn ($444m) worth of project to build a new frigate of the Royal Thai navy.
The new frigate will be manufactured to be 3,000-4,000 tonnes, costing around THB 13bn ($453m), and expected to be commissioned in two years. In a bidder for the frigate construction, companies from Spain, Italy and China participated and Daewoo was chosen after having entered the final round of the bid with another Korean shipbuilder.
In July 2018 the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) Company of the Republic of Korea (RoK) announced that the DW-3000F frigate ordered by the Royal Thai Navy had passed all tests and would be delivered to the Southeast Asian nation in August 2018. According to the DSME announcement, this is the first warship of its kind the company has built for the Royal Thai Navy under a contract worth 416 million USD. The 3,700-tonne frigate, with 123m in length and 14.4m in width, is the largest ship the RoK has exported to a foreign country. Once joining the Royal Thai Navy’s fleet in January 2019, it will become the largest and strongest warship in Southeast Asia, surpassing the Formidable of Singapore. Under the agreement between the two countries, the Korean side will transfer technology to Thailand to build the second DW-3000F frigate domestically.
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