Vietnam may have signed a deal to procure BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles from India, according to the report by VnExpress, a Vietnamese online news site.
Vietnam is developing defense cooperation with India to allow the country to pursue its defense policies, foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said at a press briefing on Thursday. She was responding to question about Vietnam’s purchase of a batch of short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missiles from India.
Any arms purchase “is in line with Vietnam’s peaceful national defense policies aimed at protecting the country,” Hang said. She said the strategic comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and India is growing in various areas and contributing to peace, stability and development in the region and the world.
Read the full statement released by the Foreign Ministry here
According to analysts, India’s sale to Vietnam of a short-range, supersonic anti-ship missile has opened a new conflict in an already tense situation with China.
According to them, about half of China’s worldwide arms exports go to one country — Pakistan, for the primary reason of “containing India”. Now India is playing the same game by arming one of China’s arch enemies, Vietnam.
Russia, which co-produces the BrahMos with India, is said to have given its nod of approval on the sale.
India has already supplied patrol vessels to Vietnam and has been providing military training, but the missiles are the first arms trade deal between the two countries.
Vietnam is building up its military amid tensions in the disputed East Sea, which is known internationally as the South China Sea. The country has also ordered six Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines from Russia in a deal worth $2 billion. The latest arrived last January.
BrahMos is an Indo-Russian short-range ramjet-powered supersonic cruise missile based on the Russian P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missile.
The BrahMos is designed and developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) and Russia’s Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM).
It is the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile in operation, travelling at speeds of 3,400-3,700 kmph (Mach 2.8 to 3.0). The range of the missile was earlier capped at 290 km as India was not a member of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
India and Russia are now planning to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos missiles with 600 km-plus range as India became a member of the MTCR in 2016. The missile is claimed to be having the ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy. The upgrade will also be applied to all existing BrahMos missiles.
India conducted the maiden test firing of the extended-range variant of the BrahMos missile on 11 March 2017. The missile was successfully fired from launch complex– III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur
The three-ton missile can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land-based platforms. The land-launched and ship-launched versions are already in service, with the air and submarine-launched versions currently in the testing phase.
A hypersonic version of the missile, BrahMos-II, is also presently under development with a speed of Mach 7-8 to boost aerial fast strike capability. It is expected to be ready for testing by 2017.