Vietnam To Have Submarine Fleet OF Six Kilo 636-Class Subs In 6 years: Report

Vietnam will have a submarine fleet
within six years, the defense minister confirmed in reports on Thursday,
as China’s increasing maritime assertiveness causes regional concern. 

Russian media reported in
December 2009 that Vietnam had agreed to buy half a dozen
diesel-electric submarines for about two billion dollars, but Hanoi had
not previously commented on the deal.


“In the coming five to six
years, we will have a submarine brigade with six Kilo 636-Class subs,”
Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh was quoted as saying by the
state-controlled Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Thanh said the fleet was “definitely not meant as a menace to regional nations,” according to Thursday’s report.

“Buying submarines, missiles, fighter jets and other equipment is for
self-defense,” he was quoted as saying, without specifying how Vietnam
was paying for the naval investment.

“It depends on our economic
ability. Vietnam has yet to produce modern weapons and military
equipment, which are costly to import,” he said.
Economists say
the country’s economy is in turmoil with galloping inflation, large
trade and budget deficits, inefficient state spending, and other woes.

Much of Vietnam’s military hardware is antiquated but this week it
received the first of three new coastal patrol planes for the marine
police, announced the manufacturer, Madrid-based Airbus Military.

When news of the Russian deal first emerged, analysts said the
acquisition aimed to bolster Hanoi’s claims against Beijing in the South
China Sea, where the two sides have a longstanding territorial spat
that has recently flared.

Tensions were heightened in May when
Vietnam accused Chinese marine surveillance vessels of cutting the
exploration cables of an oil survey ship inside the country’s exclusive
economic zone.

Other nations in the region have accused China in
recent months of becoming more aggressive in enforcing its claims to
parts of the South China Sea.
The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei
and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to all or parts of the waters,
believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.

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