The cabinet yesterday approved a navy proposal to buy two top-class frigates costing around 30 billion baht within the next five years.According to a source, the navy has turned to frigates following the government's rejection of its preferred option to purchase submarines from Germany. The navy has yet to choose a supplier.
It favours frigates from European shipyards which have good track records of building such top-quality frigates, the source said.
Builders in Germany and Spain are tipped to win the contract to supply the warships for the navy, he added.
However, senior naval officers are concerned that some politicians might try to push for the purchase of Chinese-made frigates.
The navy currently has two frigate flotillas that are capable of launching surface-to-surface missiles. They are all equipped with helipads.
Frigates can defend national waters, operate with fast attack craft, battle other surface vessels, defend against aircraft, as well as protect other vessels and combat submarines.
The navy also intends to keep the frigate, HTMS Naresuan, in service. The cabinet yesterday allowed the navy to borrow 3.29 billion baht from 2012 to 2014 to pay for a refit and to modernise its computer systems which will allow the vessel to link up with the information systems used by the air force's Gripen jet fighters.
The cost of the work will come to 495 million baht this fiscal year, 1.33 billion baht in fiscal year 2013 and 1.46 billion baht in fiscal year 2014.
The cabinet also approved yesterday a request by the army for permission to borrow 2.82 billion baht to buy helicopters. This will take place through to the 2014 fiscal year.