Thailand Plans To Buy Second Frigate From South Korea

Minister Prayut assessed that the bilateral defense cooperation has been developed continuously based on the Strategic Partnership relations, hoping to expand Thailand’s cooperation with South Korea through military education exchange, combined exercises, and a joint regular consultative group in the army, navy, and air force. 

Minister Suh specifically cited the frigate project in relation to mutual defense cooperation to demonstrate hope that South Korea might actively contribute to the military modernization of Thai forces. The Royal Thai Navy procured in 2013 the 3,650-tonne HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej (FFG 471) frigate from South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd. (DSME). The vessel was commissioned in January 2019.

The Thai Minister Prayut responded that Thailand is considering a follow-on order of frigates with South Korea.

“Thailand is willing to expand the defense cooperation with South Korea omnidirectionally as soon as the COVID-19 trend becomes better. We wish to coordinate with South Korea for detailed cooperation by channeling with the Korean Ministry of Defense and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).”

Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Thailand

The Thai frigate acquisition project started in 2012 and called for the procurement of two modern surface combatants. However the deal for the follow-on frigate had yet to materialize. A DSME source confirmed to Naval News that the follow-on order was likely to be finalized and signed this year.

HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej is based on DSME’s DW3000F design, itself a development of the Gwanggaeto the Great-class of destroyers in service with the Republic of Korea Navy.

The ship is named after the former Thai King. It was delivered in December 2018 and is now considered as the most powerful naval asset in the Royal Thai Navy.

The vessel is fitted with Saab 9LV combat management system, Sea Giraffe 4A and Sea Giraffe AMB radars by Saab, hull mounted and towed sonars by Atlas Elektronik, a 76mm main gun, 2x 30mm remote controlled guns, 8x Mk. 41 VLS cells (for up to 32 ESSM surface to air missiles), 8x Harpoon anti-ship missiles and 2x triple torpedo launchers.

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