India, Vietnam close to firming up naval defence deals

02 July 2016

India is firming up several military contracts with Vietnam, with progress on at least two major naval projects, weeks ahead of a crucial verdict in The Hague on Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Besides renewed discussions on the BrahMos missile system - a versatile missile that can developed jointly by India and Russia that operate both as a ship killer and a shore attack weapon - two projects that will add more firepower to Vietnam People's Navy are now in the final stages.

India is set to assist Vietnam in weaponising two of its Petya class frigates for an anti-submarine role. The frigates, which were procured from Russia, have been operating with reduced capabilities and Vietnam is keen to get them modernised to meet the challenging requirements its navy faces in the region.

According to The Economic Times citing sources, the package to upgrade the ships would include a new sonar system, torpedo launchers, a fire control system and a new antisubmarine rocket launcher system.

While Vietnam has a total of five Petya class frigates, the initial order is to upgrade two and a larger contract may come up at a later stage. The initial contract is expected to be close to Rs200 crore.

Vietnam is also set to get at least 10 new patrol boats from India under the line of credit route. Sources said that a contract for at least 10 new interceptor craft to be built by L&T is in the pipeline and is expected to be finalised shortly.

The interceptor craft, a version of which is also being used by the Indian Coast Guard, are designed to meet coastal surveillance and security requirements. The contract, valued at around Rs600 crore, could be inked within the next three months.

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