Philipp Doert, German Federal Military Attaché to Thailand told the Bangkok Post newspaper regarding the country where Germany has not issued an export license or Export License of the MTU engine that will be set up with the Royal Thai Navy’s S26T submarine that is being built in China, Chinese authorities have not contacted Germany before offering the MTU engines as part of its submarines until a contract between Thailand and China has been signed. A source in the Royal Thai Navy told the Bangkok Post that the offer was made because China has encountered problems in attempting to purchase a submarine engine from MTU in Germany for the S26T Yuan-class submarine being assembled in Wuhan for the Royal Thai Navy.
Aside from the good relations between Thailand and China, the secondhand submarine offer was made partly because the German supplier of submarine engines refused to sell one to China after learning that it would use the engine for assembling a new submarine for sale to another country. As negotiations continue, the delivery, previously scheduled for September next year, may have to be postponed until April 2024. Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan initiated the purchase when he was defense minister. The Bangkok Post reported that Royal Thai Navy chief Adm Somprasong Nilsamai confirmed that China made an informal offer to provide the Royal Thai Navy with two used submarines to train staff while waiting for the first of its order of Chinese-made submarines to be delivered.
On 2 July 2015, the Royal Thai Navy formally selected China’s Yuan-class (Type 041) platform to meet a requirement for three submarines. The Navy’s procurement committee voted unanimously in favor of purchasing the submarine, which has been designated S26T (Thailand), a modified export version of the Yuan class. On 1 July 2016, the Royal Thai Navy 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. The steel cutting ceremony of the first S26T submarine was held on 4 September 2018 in Wuhan, China.
The Type 039A submarine (NATO reporting name: Yuan class) is a class of diesel-electric submarine in China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy. It is China’s first AIP-powered submarine and is presumed to be one of the quietest diesel-electric submarine classes in service. This class is the successor of the Type 039 submarine. The official Chinese designation is 039A as the ship is based on the 039 class, but as the 039A has very little resemblance to the 039 it is commonly referred to as Type 041. The engine is built by Shanghai Qiyao Propulsion Technology Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the 711th Institute. This 039A class is equipped with an air-independent propulsion system developed by the 711th Research Institute of the China Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Group Corp.