Defence Current Affairs
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Both India and Vietnam attach great importance to defence cooperation. India is one of only three countries with whom Vietnam has a comprehensive strategic partnership. Defence ties between India and Vietnam are guided by the “Common Vision on Defense Ties 2015-20”.
Common Vision on Defense Ties
In 2005, India and Vietnam have signed a Joint Vision Statement on defence cooperation for 2015-2020. The five year Joint Vision statement builds on the earlier mechanisms of cooperation and processes between the two nations for elevating the defence and security relationship. The Joint Vision statement has given further impetus to the India-Vietnam’s expanding defence and strategic ties. Even though progress has been made toward the vision’s objectives related to joint training and cybersecurity cooperation, substantive weapon sales from India to Vietnam remain unrealized. India has been trying to hasten the matter of weapons transfers to Vietnam via high-level exchanges that seek to address Vietnamese concerns.
Strengthening Defence Cooperation
India is eager to contribute to the deterrent potential of a Vietnam with whom it has significant geopolitical congruence. India also aims at building up its own position as a supplier in the Asian arms market simultaneously. Following steps have been initiated by India in this regard:
- India has offered a $500 million line of credit (LoC) for defence purchases.
- India has also offered Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM), which has a range of 27 kilometers and can achieve speeds in excess of Mach 2. Since Akash has more than 90% indigenous content India can transfer this weapon system to Vietnam without taking into consideration the views of a third party like Russia, which co-developed the BrahMos.
- India’s Bharat Electronics (BEL), opened its first-ever representative office in Hanoi with the objective of marketing the company’s weapons systems, radar systems, naval systems, military communication systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems, combat management systems and coastal surveillance systems.
- Cooperation in the sphere of cyber security is epitomized by the Army Software Park in Nha Trang, which is being built with Indian financial support to the tune of $5 million.
- Both India and Vietnam are also looking at the proposal under which India would train Vietnam People’s Air Force (VPAF) pilots on their Su-30 MK2Vs which are similar to the Su-30 MKIs operated by the IAF. The cooperation aims at increasing Vietnam’s ability to fight, if deterrence were to break down.
- The Indian Navy has been training Vietnamese sailors to operate the Vietnamese People’s Navy’s (VPN’s) Kilo-class submarines at Visakhapatnam since 2013.
- An order for building 10 high-speed patrol vessels for the Vietnamese Border Guards is being executed by India’s Larsen & Toubro under the aegis of a $100 million LoC extended by India.
- India is also a front runner for upgrading two Vietnamese Petya-class frigates for which it had supplied spares in the past.
India hopes that persistent efforts will bear fruit in the near future. Hopes are particularly high because the coming into effect of the U.S. Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) has made the Vietnamese both wary of depending too much on the Russians or switching over to the Americans as a supplier.
It is said that Indian capacity building assistance to Vietnam as a symmetric response to China’s close military relationship with Pakistan. China is making intermittent noises about the India-Vietnam defense relationship. But the India- Vietnam defence cooperation is not centered on China even though it provides an added advantage of containing China.
The Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently met Russian Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu at the 18th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) that was held in New Delhi.
Important Highlights of the 18th Meeting of IRIGC-MTC:
- In the meeting, a wide range of issues were discussed regarding defence equipment, industry and technological cooperation between India and Russia.
- Issues related to after sales support and upgradation of military equipment of Russian origin were also discussed.
- Both the Ministers has expressed heir satisfaction at the progress in bilateral defence cooperation between India and Russia.
- Discussions took place on joint manufacturing projects in the meeting, including the Kamov-226T helicopters, naval frigates and other projects related to land systems.
- There was also an agreement from both the sides to take forward inter-governmental arrangements to facilitate joint .manufacturing of spares for equipments of Russian origin in India, under the ‘Make in India’ scheme.
- The existing IRIGC-MTC will be restructured to the IRIGC on Military and Military Technical Cooperation. An agreement regarding this was signed by the two Defence Ministers.
Russia has been the most important arms supplier for India’s Defence forces. Both the countries have an institutionalized structure to oversee all the issues of military-technical cooperation. The IRIGC is at the top of this institutionalized structure. The India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) was set up in 2000. The First meeting of the IRIGC-MTC was held in Moscow in 2001. The 19th IRIGC meeting is proposed to be held in Russia next year.