New Toy: Myanmar’s military shows off Russian attack sub

The Min Ye Thain Kha Thu on Saturday at the Thanlyin Navy Shipyard. Photo: Thar Thar Lay
The Min Ye Thain Kha Thu on Saturday at the Thanlyin Navy Shipyard. Photo: Thar Thar Lay

When the Tatmadaw navy conducted its annual exercises, it had a new asset to brag about: the UMS Min Ye Thain Kha Thu, a Russian-made attack submarine.

The 74-meter Kilo-class sub, which participated alongside Myanmar’s other warships in the recently concluded exercise, is a used loaner from India meant to foster defense cooperation between the two neighboring countries. It was designed by Rubin Central Maritime Design Bureau in St. Petersburg and delivered to Myanmar late last year.

At the event, the commander-in-chief of Defense Services, Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, appeared in a navy uniform to honor the acquisition of Myanmar’s first submarine alongside other top Tatmadaw brass.

“Today is a milestone in the history of Tatmadaw’s navy,” he said. “Every country is striving to promote its naval power. To reach this end, [we] must enhance naval strength by possessing powerful naval vessels, and the submarine is among them.”

Regional navies have been on buying sprees, with neighboring Thailand in the process of acquiring its first submarine since its fleet was scuttled decades ago following a failed putsch. India says its lease of the second-hand submarine will help Myanmar’s navy train its forces and comes as it wants to boost allies in the face of its ongoing conflict with China.

“This is in accordance with our vision of SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region,” said Anurag Srivastava of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, “and also in line with our commitment to build capacities and self-reliance in all our neighboring countries.”

Myanmar is said to also be acquiring submarines from China.

Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said sailors would need stronger mental and physical abilities to serve aboard their first sub.

“A modernized navy must be equipped with submarines. We have been trying and considering how to possess submarines for many decades. Such dreams can not be shaped easily. We tried very hard to make this dream come true,” he said.

The vessel was dubbed Min Ye Thain Kha Thu to give it some glow as it heads off to valorous naval adventures, the commander-in-chief said.

Fleet Exercise 2020 featured electronic warfare drills, anti-submarine drills, formation movements, drills missile defense drills, anti-aircraft activities and more. Joint-operation  drills of the new submarine and warships were also conducted.


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