Asia Defense

India, Vietnam in Talks Over Surface-to-Air Missile System

In another manifestation of a closer defense relationship, India and Vietnam have entered talks over a SAM platform.

India, Vietnam in Talks Over Surface-to-Air Missile System
Credit: Udayblr via Wikimedia Commons

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.

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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.