Thailand has traditionally turned to Asian countries as well to expand its naval fleet. In April 2012, the RTN received HTMS Ang Thong, a landing platform dock (LPD) vessels, similar to Singapore’s Endurance class LPDs. Built by ST Marine in Singapore, Thailand’s first LPD is sure to find practical use for any disaster relief missions around the region.
More recently, the Navy confirmed it is purchasing two ton frigates from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) in South Korea. Contract signature for the first frigate took place in August 2013. DSME’s design is derived fr
om the KDX-1 destroyer in service with the South Korean Navy. The first frigate will be delivered to Thailand in 2018. DSME has already contracted Saab via $134 million deal to integrate the company’s 9LV Mk4 CMS and radar systems onto the first frigate. Little detail has been released so far, but the new vessels are expected to feature ESSM in an eight-cell Mk41 vertical launch system from Lockheed Martin, an Oto Melara 76/62 Super Rapid gun and two MSI Defense Seahawk 30mm cannons. The contract for the second ship is dependent on sufficient government funding.
Work is ongoing to upgrade two type 25T purchased from China and commissioned in 1995. BAE Systems was awarded a contact in July for three Mk 25 Model 0 quad pack canisters for Raytheon’s RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM). These will be fitted to the two Naresuan Class frigates. Saab was also awarded two contracts in June 2011 to fit its CEROS 200 fire control system, Sea Giraffe AMB radar, EOS 500 optronic director, data-link and 9LV Mk4 Combat Management System (CMS), to be fitted to each of the upgraded frigates. This work is expected to conclude in 2015.
Additionally, the Swedish company announced in April 2012 it was upgrading the RTN’s flagship, aircraft carrier HTMS Chakri Naruebet. The relevant contract includes the 9LV Mk4 CMS and Sea Giraffe surveillance radar as well When concluded, these three ships will be able to seamlessly intercommunicate with Saab built aircraft as Thailand expands its joint service network-centricity via the RTAF Defense System (RTAD).
BAE Systems will have a presence at Defense & Security, fresh from commissioning the RTN’s first Offshore patrol Vessel (OPV), commissioned August 26, 2013. HTMS Krabi, a variant of the Royal Navy’s River Class, was built by Bangkok Dock under a technology transfer agreement. The 1,969 ton OPV features an Oto Melara 76/62 Super Rapid Gun and two MSI-Defense 30mm cannons. There is an expected follow-on requirement for three more OPVs of this class. Local shipbuilders are certainly growing in capability. In May 2013, three M21 patrol boats constructed by Marsum Company were commissioned. Marsum is also building three larger M26 coastal patrol boats that should enter service in 2014.
This article, first published by Gordon Arthur in Asian Defense & Diplomacy special edition for Defense & Security 2013 is part of a three-part series reviewing recent acquisition programs in Thailand: