(Separate to The Diplomat article described below). The above map identifies Vietnam's main naval bases and the major vessel types in them. The Navy consists mainly of Russian built or designed vessels. The (potentially Klub missile armed) Gepard class frigates and Klub armed Improved Kilo submarines are the most powerful units. The TT-400TPs gunboats and Molniya corvettes are locally built. The Navy is orientated toward low to medium level reconnaissance and warfare against Chinese aggression. This includes countering Chinese coast guard and naval militia "trawler" tactics in the South China Sea.
The continually high quality and informative website The Diplomat has produced an excellent 4,000 word (including graphs) article, Vietnam's Military Modernization. The article is dated October 28, 2016 and has a wealth of detail and commentary. The full article includes sections on Vietnam’s defence force modernization, (line, bar and pie) charts on the Defense Budget and arms imports in comparison to other ASEAN countries, Defense White Paper, Navy, Air Force, Ground Force, Missiles, ISR and Conclusion.
The article is by Zachary Abuza, PhD, Professor at the National War College (in Washington DC.) where he specializes in Southeast Asian security issues. The views expressed here are his own, and not the views of the Department of Defense or National War College. Follow him on Twitter @ZachAbuza. and by
Nguyen Nhat Anh is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, where he focused on International Political Economy. You can follow him on Twitter @anhnnguyen93
To convey an idea of its quality, the following is a 515 word extract of the 4,000 word article. The extract is on recent changes in the Vietnamese Navy including detail on its Kilo submarine force. I haven’t seen this quality of Vietnamese submarine detail elsewhere on the Internet.
No service has benefitted more from modernization than the Vietnam People’s Army Navy (VPAN). Vietnam has acquired six Russian-built Kilo-class submarines, five of which have been delivered, and the sixth will arrive in early 2017. That gives Vietnam the most advanced submarine fleet in the region. Vietnam has already trained nine of 12 submarine crews and at least one submarine is currently patrolling without its Russian trainers and advisers. Vietnam surprised many when it successfully purchased submarine-launched Klub anti-shore missiles from Russia. Yet most evidence, to date, is that the ships are spending most of their training time on the surface, with only occasional dives, rather than prolonged underwater training missions.
Vietnam acquired two Gepard-class frigates in 2011, its largest and most modern surface warfare ships. Two more are currently under construction, to be delivered late 2016 or early 2017; these will be equipped with advanced anti-submarine warfare capabilities. A third pair is currently being negotiated.
Vietnam acquired two fast Molniya missile attack crafts from Russia. More importantly, it purchased the production license for six more that have already been built, and is currently negotiating the license to build four more. The new Molniya-class will have additional capabilities, including being armed with Klub ship-to-shore missiles, in addition to the existing Uran anti-ship missile. These will give Vietnam the ability to target any facilities China has constructed in the Spratly or Paracel Islands.
India provided a $500 million line of credit to Vietnam for the acquisition of Indian defense systems during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Hanoi in September 2016. There has been no information on exactly how that fund will be used, aside from $99 million allocated to produce an undisclosed number of patrol craft for Vietnam’s coast guard, including the license for Vietnam to begin local production. Vietnam may also move toward the acquisition of the BrahMos anti-ship missile (discussed below), though no agreement was reached during Indian Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar’s visit to Hanoi in June 2016.
Vietnam is also trying to acquire niche capabilities to make up for shortfalls in its existing arsenal. One example is the Italian Pluto Plus mine-identification unmanned underwater vehicle, which was revealed in May 2016. It will assist Soviet 1960s Yurka minesweepers currently, but at the very end of their service life, with the VPAN. This acquisition also shows the VPA’s penchant for integrating older Russian systems with new Western weapons and equipment, and for looking westward for new purchases when it needs to. That being said, the skeleton of the VPA’s armory remains Russian, now and at least in the near future. And attempts at integrating Western and Soviet/Russian platforms have historically not gone well.
In sum, Vietnam’s naval developments to date have been impressive. Between 2011 and 2015, naval vessels accounted for 44 percent of defense imports. We expect in the coming years for Vietnam to continue with this trajectory, though at a slower rate as the new focus will be on the ground force. Maritime acquisitions will continue, yet the navy remains a small service arm that is unlikely to grow significantly.”See the WHOLE 4,000 WORD ARTICLE at The Diplomat (subscription site) .