According to South Korean media, Seoul and Bangkok are discussing a second Bhumibol Adulyadej-class frigate.
Accordingly, the Southeast Asian country is considering a new frigate project and intends to start negotiations on defense industry cooperation with South Korea as soon as the pandemic situation improves.
Thailand previously purchased a frigate from South Korea in 2018, currently deployed for field operations, the HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej (FFG-471). The design is a variant of the Republic of Korea Navy’s Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyer design, with additional stealth features. This is the first ship in the High-Performance Frigate Boat Project of the Royal Thai Navy. It is able to perform 3D combat operations on surface, underwater and air.
The frigate has a full load displacement of 3,700 tons, a length of 124.1 m, a beam of 14.4 m, and a draft of 8 m. The hull is different from the Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyer, due to the design of the ship having reduced radar cross-section, and there are many other additional technologies added. The ship has a complement of 141 officers and sailors.
Power is from a combination diesel-gas arrangement, includes 2 x MTU 16V1163 M94 marine diesels of 8,000 horsepower output installed alongside 1 x General Electric LM2500 gas turbines of 29,000 horsepower. The ship can, therefore, more efficiently call upon either installation to accomplish general cruising or high-speed dashing tasks as needed. Maximum speed in ideal conditions reaches 33.3 knots and endurance is out to a useful 4,000 nautical miles.
Regarding weapons, the ship has 1 x 76mm Super Rapid turreted deck gun, 2 x 30mm DS30M Mark 2 guns, 1 x 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, and 2 x M2 Browning machine guns. The missile portion of the armament suite is comprised of 1 x 8-cell Mk 41 Vertical Launching System for up to 32 x RIM-162 “Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile” medium-range Surface-to-Air Missiles, and 8 x RUM-139C Anti-Submarine ROCkets (ASROC). Rounding out the suite are 2 x SEA torpedo launchers giving the frigate a solution for each type of at-sea threat.
Sensors and processing systems include the “Sea Giraffe” 4A Active, Electronically-Scanned Array long-range surveillance radar, Wartsila X-band and S-band navigation radars, and twin Saab CEROS 200 series fire control radar. Electronic Warfare (EW) is also managed by way of various Western systems including the Harris ES-3601 Radar-ESM and R7F DDF-255 Communication-ESM.
Although the Bhumibol Adulyadej class currently has only one ship, it is certainly an impressive addition to the Royal Thai Navy, contributing to stability in the region.