Vietnam To Receive Advanced Russian Sub in 2013
Image Credit: Wikicommons

Vietnam To Receive Advanced Russian Sub in 2013


As tensions remain high in the South China Sea between Vietnam and China, Hanoi is reportedly set to receive its first of six advanced submarines from Russia.

Ria Novsti reported that “The first of six Varshavyanka class (Project 636M) diesel-electric submarines will be delivered to Vietnam in 2013 as scheduled.” Commonly referred to as the Kilo-class, the subs reportedly boast “advanced stealth technology, extended combat range and ability to strike land, surface and underwater targets.”

Hanoi placed an order for six of the Russian-made subs back in 2009. According to the report by Ria Novsti, the contract, which also has provisions for the training of Vietnamese submarine crews in Russia, is reportedly valued at US$2 billion.

According to a recent article from USNI News, Vietnam has ordered the most advanced variant of the Kilo, the improved 636MV. The USNI article explained:

“The Project 636 Kilo-class submarine has been dubbed the “black hole” by the U.S. Navy for its level of quietness. The Project 636MV-class sub has improved stealth features through the removal of flooding ports and treating the hull with multilayer anechoic rubber tiles. The tiles are fitted on casings and fins to absorb active sonar waves that reduce and distort the return signal. The anechoic tiles also shield sounds from within the submarine thus reducing the range of detection by passive sonar.”

The new subs could also be part of Vietnam’s attempt to develop its own anti-access capabilities. As our own Naval Diplomat, James Holmes, pointed out in a recent article:

“Submarines offer enormous bang for the buck, and they are survivable. Still, this also means that advances in Chinese antisubmarine warfare could nullify Vietnam’s effort to fend off the PLA Navy. Next, Vietnamese access denial could take on an offensive as well as a defensive character. Vietnamese Kilos could, say, loiter unseen off the Chinese naval station at Sanya, on Hainan Island, holding PLA Navy submarines at risk at the delicate moment when they are entering or leaving port—exposing them to enemy action.”

While such a purchase by Vietnam will surely increase its undersea capabilities, it will take years for such subs to come online. All of the vessels crews will need to undergone extensive training and the subs will also need to be thoroughly tested. Also, all six submarines will not all be available for duty at all times, as such vessels are cycled in and out of service for repair and training.

January 1, 2014 at 23:21

common, anyone want to try with Vietnamese. we are afraid anyone. 4000 of combat (defending) experience.

Chien Lee
April 18, 2013 at 15:11

Vietnam needs 4-6 more conventional submarine than those 636 kilo and more Torpedo, missiles ships. Su-35 jets.

April 6, 2013 at 03:39


As a Vietnamese, my loyalty is for Vietnam as a country, not the commie government of Vietnam. Both of commie Chinese and VietCong can go to hell and I don't care a bit but I am disturbed to see commie China tries to rob the Vietnamese their lands and sea and its a duty for every Vietnamese to defend and to make sure the Chinese that their nose could be bleeding badly again in the East sea.

April 5, 2013 at 13:13

@Uncle Kim,

Apologies for the late reply, it is unlikely this will be read now, but anyway

The 2nd superpower was not France (haha) but China in 1978 in response to Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia

I define the defeat of both US and China as their failure to complete their goals (specifially to prevent NV from invading another country).  Politics is a factor of war, especially when it undermines a country's resolve to complete its objective.  To another point of how the NVA was supplied, I have no doubt that if Vietnam and China went to war today, that Vietnam would have little problem in sourcing supplies.  My enemies enemy..

April 4, 2013 at 23:41

@ Cam & SCA

Wow! I guess you think I support PRC or from there.  Sorry, just stated the real truth even though your patriotism to Comie Vietnam is understandable but pathetic.  Just like Kim's Uncle statement – " It’s kinda ironic that two commies are turning on each other though, almost laughable! They used to boast about how Hanoi and Beijing were as “close as lips and teeth”! .   It is a dog fighting between two bad governments.  As an American, this situation fit into USA's global strategy play as taught in "Art of the War".

Share your thoughts

Your Name
Your Email
required, but not published
Your Comment

Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief