The Royal Thai Navy is considering purchasing two South Korean submarines instead of six second-hand German submarines, Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has said.

The defence minister’s proposal for two new Hyundai-built Type U-209 Class diesel-electric submarines could cost over THB40bn ($1.32bn) and will require a tied-over budget spanning years.

The navy has agreed to the proposal as long as the new South Korean submarines were based on German technology, a navy source said.

“But if that costs more than 40bn-50bn baht, the government may not approve it and the Navy will end up without any submarines,” the source added.

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The Korean Type U-209 Class submarine has a displacement capacity of 1,200t and can accommodate a crew of 30, according to the Bangkok Post.

The 7.7bn-baht ($255m) German submarines have a usable life of only six or seven years compared with the new submarines.