The Indian government has entered talks with the government of Vietnam over the potential sale of India’s indigenously developed Akash mobile surface-to-air missile system. The talks represent another manifestation of growing defense ties between India and Vietnam.
The Akash was developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and is a medium-range supersonic surface-to-air system, capable of striking aircraft within a range of 30 kilometers. The Akash delivers a 60 kilogram high-explosive warhead and can travel at speeds of up to March 2.5.
“Talks are in progress to arrive at a common plan. It’s relatively easier on the Akash front since the missile system is 96 percent indigenous,” a source told the Times of India.
The two countries have seen their convergence accelerated in recent years given their mutual concerns over a rising China. India has provided training to the Vietnamese navy’s submariners on operating the country’s six Russian Kilo-class submarines. Vietnam is also receiving Indian assistance in the modernization of its Petya-class frigates (specifically for anti-submarine warfare).
India has also considered offering Vietnam the considerably more advanced BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, pending consent for the sale from Russia, a co-developer of the BrahMos. India and Russia are reported to have resolved intellectual property issues that had held up talks with Vietnam over the BrahMos.
Vietnam has expressed interest in the advanced supersonic cruise missile since at least 2014, when it experienced a sharp rise in tensions with China in the South China Sea.
India and Vietnam raised their relationship to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” during a September 2016 state visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Hanoi. During the visit, Modi announced a $500 credit line for Vietnam, with the intention of encouraging greater defense cooperation between the two countries.