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China offers Indonesia submarines with German engines to avoid Thai issues.

According to information published by the Matichon on July 4, 2024, China has proposed the sale of S26T diesel-electric submarines to Indonesia, featuring German engines to address previous issues encountered by Thailand.
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A model of the S26T submarine at Defense & Security in Bangkok. (Picture source: Navy Recognition)

The offer was made by officials from the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) during a visit to Jakarta on June 28, as reported by Janes.

The S26T submarines, identical to those ordered by Thailand, come with customization options to meet the specific needs of the Indonesian Navy. Despite the submarines being partially constructed, CSSC assured the Indonesian Ministry of Defense that these submarines would not face the same export restrictions experienced by Thailand.

CSSC highlighted that the S26T submarines could be equipped with German MTU engines, enhancing their appeal. The proposal also includes a package allowing the submarines to be armed with the Chinese-manufactured YJ-18 anti-ship missiles.

Most of the S26T's original features, as specified for the Chinese Navy, will remain intact. This includes the advanced air-independent propulsion system, which extends the submarine's operational capabilities.

Indonesian Navy submarine fleet

As of 2024, the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Laut or TNI-AL) operates a diverse submarine fleet that includes both older and more modern vessels aimed at enhancing the country’s maritime defense capabilities.

The backbone of the current fleet comprises the Nagapasa-class submarines, which are based on the South Korean Chang Bogo-class design, itself derived from the German Type 209 submarines. These diesel-electric attack submarines are designed for various missions such as anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, reconnaissance, and special operations. The class includes KRI Nagapasa, KRI Ardadedali, and KRI Alugoro.

In addition to the Nagapasa-class, the fleet also includes the older Cakra-class submarines. These are German-built Type 209/1300 submarines that have been in service since the early 1980s. Notably, KRI Nanggala tragically sank in 2021 during a training exercise, impacting the operational capacity of this class.

Looking towards the future, Indonesia is actively expanding its submarine fleet. In March 2024, the Indonesian government signed a contract with France’s Naval Group and Indonesia’s state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL for the construction of two Scorpène-class submarines.

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