Thailand's navy has plans to acquire submarines from Israel in a bid to enhance the country's military capability, according to a Thai Navy official.
The Bangkok Post newspaper reported Wednesday that Admiral Prasert Boonsong had expressed a desire to acquire two secondhand submarines for the navy, which he heads.
The report, cited by the Associated Press, was confirmed to the agency by an officer in the navy's public relations office.
Prasert was quoted by the Post as saying the navy might buy two German-made submarines from Israel on a hire-purchase basis for $68.2 million to $90.9 million.
"Thailand is studying the capability of submarines from several countries," a navy secretary, Rear Admiral Narong Thepvisan, told AFP.
"We haven't yet decided how many submarines we will buy, but it should be at least two, depending on who we buy them from. It also depends on the budget the government agrees to give us."
Narong said the navy originally intended to purchase a brand-new submarine, but its plans were frustrated by the economic crisis that hit the region in 1997, forcing huge cuts in government spending.
"In fact, we wanted to buy a new one, but it is impossible under the current economic situation. So the other possibility is to buy a used submarine," he said.
Narong said the vessel would be a vital part of Thailand's defense armory.
"We should have one - neighboring countries have their own submarines and it will be useful in the defense of the country," he said – Albawaba.com
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