China’s Wuchang Shipyard started the construction of the first S26T diesel-electric attack submarine for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) with a steel cutting ceremony at its facility in Wuhan, China on Sept. 4, 2018.
On 2 July 2015, Thailand formally selected China’s Type 041 Yuan-class platform to meet a requirement for three submarines. The RTN’s procurement committee voted unanimously in favour of purchasing the submarine, which has been designated S26T (Thailand), a modified export version of the Yuan-class. RTN submitted a funding plan for its 36 billion baht submarine procurement project to the cabinet for consideration with the expenditure to be spread over 11 years on 1 July 2016.
The Thai Government signed a contract with the China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC) for one S26T submarine in May 2017. The government-to-government (G2G) contract was worth $393 million (THB 13.5 billion), and called for the delivery of the boat by 2023.
The new boat measures 77.7m long, 8.6m wide and can operate at depths of up to 300m. It will have a displacement of 2,600 tonnes, a top speed of 18 knots and be able to remain submerged for up to 20 days with its air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, and will be armed with 16 torpedoes and missiles, and up to 30 mines.
China has received order for diesel-electric submarines from several Asian nations. In 2016, Pakistan has ordered eight trimmed down version of China’s Type 039B submarines – dubbed S20 and designated Hangor-class – in a US$4 billion deal with Beijing. The boats is scheduled to be delivered by 2028. China has also sold two smaller Type 035G Ming-class submarines to Bangladesh, which entered service last year.