Vietnam builds naval muscle.

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  1. Harry Potter
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    THE HANOIST
    Vietnam builds naval muscle.
    By The Hanoist

    Following a series of high-profile procurement deals, Vietnam's growing naval program symbolizes its evolving military posture. Driven by persistent maritime disputes with China and facilitated by an expanding economy, Vietnam is actively modernizing its military through naval, air and electronic-fighting capability upgrades.

    A decade ago, the Vietnamese navy was equipped with Soviet-era hardware based on technology from the 1960s along with an assortment of American-made vessels seized from South Vietnam at the end of the war. This outdated force was inadequate for patrolling the country's 200-mile exclusive economic zone or maintaining its claims over the Spratly Islands, an expansive archipelago also claimed in whole or part by China, Taiwan and several other Southeast Asian nations.

    Dedicating approximately 3% of gross domestic product per

    Dilbert
    mute


    annum to defense spending, Vietnam has gone on an armaments spending spree in Russia, the Netherlands and Canada, among others. The military hardware from these big ticket contracts is now beginning to enter service and promises to boost significantly Vietnam’s naval and air power.

    Last year, for instance, Vietnam deployed its first two Gepard-class light frigates which were constructed at the famed Gorky Shipbuilding Plant. The Gepards, displacing 2,100 tons, feature the Uran-E missile system to target other ships, a helicopter deck and purported stealth technology for evasive maneuvers. Two additional Gepard-class light frigates, specially equipped for anti-submarine warfare, have also been ordered. Together, they will serve as the backbone of Vietnam's surface fleet for years to come.

    Vietnam is also in the process of acquiring and deploying smaller missile boats. Of special note is the Molniya-class corvette which Vietnam has already received two from Russia and acquired the license to build locally an additional ten. Armed with SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missiles, these 550-ton corvettes can blend in with coastal fishing vessels while packing a punch against adversaries further out at sea.

    The move that has garnered the most attention, however, was the recent US$1.8 billion order of six diesel-powered Kilo-class submarines from Russia. These quiet underwater vessels offer Vietnam entirely new capabilities for patrolling the hotly contested South China Sea. The first Kilo is scheduled to be delivered in 2013, followed by one more each year through 2018.

    Vietnam's experience in operating submarines is virtually nonexistent. In 1997, it discreetly obtained two obsolete Yugo midget submarines from North Korea presumably to practice underwater operations. Designed for infiltrating special forces commandos rather than naval combat, the midget submarines probably offered only limited training opportunities for Vietnamese sailors.

    For full-scale underwater warfare training, it appears Vietnam will turn to India. The two countries have been engaged in high-level military talks with special emphasis on maritime cooperation. Since the Indian navy also employs Kilo-class submarines, New Delhi would be well suited to train Vietnamese crews. China responded warily to this bilateral warming trend in both words and deeds when a Chinese warship reportedly confronted an Indian navy vessel leaving a Vietnamese port in August.

    Concerning where the Kilos will actually be berthed, most of the public information so far has come from Russian media. Moscow will reportedly build a submarine base for Vietnam at strategic Cam Ranh Bay, a one-time American and later Soviet naval base on the country's south-central coast facing the Pacific ocean.

    In a surprise development, Vietnam is also finalizing a contract to purchase four Sigma-class corvettes from the Netherlands. Currently operated by the Indonesian and Moroccan navies, the Sigmas, two of which might be built in Vietnam, would be the most modern warships in Vietnam's inventory.

    To provide air cover to its naval fleet and skies, Vietnam is in the process of acquiring Russian-made Su-30MK2 multi-role fighter aircraft. By the end of this year, Vietnam will have at least 20 of these advanced warplanes in addition to about a dozen relatively modern SU-27s and scores of leftover MiG aircraft that are older than most of their pilots.

    Capable as naval strike fighters, Vietnamese Su-27s and Su-30MK2s will be able to reach the waters adjacent to the Spratly islands which are believed to be beyond the effective range of China's shore-based fighter planes.

    To improve naval surveillance, Vietnam has procured six DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft which will be delivered over the next two years. The amphibious aircraft can land and takeoff from the water and are ideally suited for maritime patrol and resupply. Manufactured in Canada, the Twin Otters represent Vietnam's first fixed-wing aircraft purchased in the West.

    The question looming over all these acquisitions is how all this hardware will communicate and fit together given the military’s limited experience operating each of these platforms even on a standalone basis.

    The interoperability challenge is especially acute since Vietnam is essentially acquiring defense platforms on an เ la carte basis from numerous suppliers - principally Russia, but also the Netherlands, Canada, France, and perhaps one day the United States. Vietnam's military will thus have to devote significant attention to training and transforming into a modern, professional fighting force.

    A further reaching question is what doctrine will guide Vietnam’s military broadly and navy in particular. In 2009, the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense published a highly publicized white paper on national defense. This public document was a start but was laced with outdated communist rhetoric and anodyne pronouncements. Presumably Vietnamese planners are able to fully articulate strategic concepts in private without fear of offending Sino sensitivities.

    In a 2010 interview, a Chinese vice admiral expressed concern that several Southeast Asian countries were in the process of acquiring submarine fleets. He stated "if this continues at the current rate, in several years the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] countries will create powerful naval forces" and that "this is naturally becoming a challenge to neighboring countries, including China."

    Just as China is undertaking an "anti-access/area denial" strategy to keep the US Navy away from the Western Pacific, a better armed Vietnam and its potential partners could pursue a similar deterrence strategy with regards to Beijing in the South China Sea.

    The analogy is not a perfect one since China obviously borders these contested waters. Apart from claiming almost the entire South China Sea, China is also preoccupied with at least two other major theaters, namely Taiwan and Northeast Asia. Thus, Beijing may reconsider its current ambitions to dominate the South China Sea if it receives enough pushback.

    Vietnam is far from challenging China, but its modernizing military - as evidenced by its increasing naval capabilities - is making important strides towards a more credible deterrence.

    The Hanoist writes on Vietnam’s politics and people.

    (Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

    Asia Times Online :: Vietnam builds naval muscle
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  2. ManilaBoy45
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    I'm amazed at how Vietnam was able to modernized it's military in such a short period of time especially it's naval forces ...
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  3. Viet
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    Combat skills of Vietnam’s naval special force

    tuoi tre
    Updated : Tue, May 8, 2012,9:45 AM (GMT+0700)

    Each member of the special force of the Vietnam Navy can dive 50m below the water surface while carrying a load of 500kg, ‘anchor’ motionless in the water for 24 consecutive hours, or hide themselves in the sand of a school yard without detection.

    [​IMG]
    Members of the commando regiment 126 of the Vietnam Navy in a training session

    They are trained for both water- and land-based operations, including direct action, special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare and other covert demolition operations against enemies encroaching on national sovereignty.

    Two years of brutal training

    The barracks of the Naval Special Force -- one of the two most elite units of commando regiment 126 of the Vietnam Navy -- is located between a chain of hills and a deep river, which are also their training fields.

    Members of the force are normally frogmen who are battle-hardened not only in the water, but also on land. They can hide themselves in the sand of a school yard for hours without being detected by teachers and students.

    “In the cold season when temperatures drop down to 8-10 degree Celsius, these frogmen make their regular swimming session. Under such harsh weather conditions, the skin becomes blue and pale upon leaving the water. We can’t open our mouths wide or close them for cold,” said captain Nguyen Hai Trieu, who has served in the force for 18 years.

    With exceptional health, they are the ones who pass the strict requirements. From thousands of soldiers only ten are selected, according to Do Quang Khai -- deputy political commissar of regiment 126.

    On average, only 20-30 men are selected a year.

    “They are special men of the army with a combat capability of deep and far diving and are well equipped with state-of-the-art special machines,” he added.

    It takes a newly-recruited man two years of hard training to become a qualified seasoned soldier of the special force who is able to swim 10km without making a noise and dive in deep water for 1km, and be proficient in using heavy weapons.

    An amphibious commando also has a strong vestibular system that helps him maintain his senses of balance and orientation during and after challenging activities of gyration. During training his feet are tied to a Ferris wheel, while he hangs upside down, and he is gyrated around and around, sometimes for several hours.

    “The training program starts with developing a distance diving ability to catch a target. It is the most brutal training. Each soldier carries a load of 200kg, later up to 500kg, and dives 20-50m deep in the water. In total darkness, soldiers are guided by special devices. It is an exhausting job due to strong tidal flows in the deep water,” said captain Trieu.

    “In deep water, commandos are most worried by jellyfish and sea-urchins, the sea creatures that cause itching and blisters after being touched.”

    Soldiers are also trained in the ability to ‘anchor’ motionless under water to ambush selected targets. The current record for ‘anchoring’ in deep water is 24 consecutive hours at sea.

    [​IMG]
    Commandos of the naval regiment 126 trains to retake an island (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

    In summer, the training field moves to land with regular practice of being buried in hot sand under the scorching sunlight to train in the ability to disguise and maintain strong spirit. The capability is useful in preparing attacks on a city or against a well-fortified position. The commandos are the pioneers that surround the target, and each soldier then digs a hole and buries themselves to wait for the starting time.

    They can bury themselves under hot sand from 6am till midnight the following day.

    “If the weather is 35 degree Celsius, it must be 37-45 degree in the sand. It’s an exhausting work but we have to choose between life and death, success or defeat, maintaining secrecy or betrayal,” said commissar Trinh Duy Hieu.

    “Our bodies turn rosy. Sun-burnt skin peels off many times and becomes as thick as the sheath of an areca tree. Our facial complexion looks dark and weather beaten,” he admitted.

    “Once we advanced on a school yard and disguised ourselves by lying in sand in the yard as a test. Teachers and students walked on us but they didn’t recognize anything.”

    Challenges in deep sea water

    Three times a year, members of the special force are sent to Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Sea for field training for 30-50 days. They set a new record for the force by swimming continuously for 48 hours at sea.

    This program is designed to train soldiers to possess good command of combat skills in water, and underwater demolition of obstacles prior to any amphibious landing.

    The biggest challenges are actually the swift and whirling tidal flows in Truong Sa and attacks by aggressive sharks.

    “At 40-50m under the sea in Truong Sa, you may get oxygen or nitrogen intoxication if you are not proficient in the use of machines to decompress at different levels of depth. With a certain kind of machine, your lungs may be badly damaged if water enters the equipment during your manipulation in the total darkness of the sea,” Trieu said.

    Naval commandos are also trained to surpass electric detectors and confront aggressive dolphins or man-eating white sharks.

    For warships with hulls that are 1-2cm thick steel, commandos can attack by getting within just 3-4 meters of the vessel and setting fire. In such a case, the commandos know in advance they will die, Trieu said.
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  4. Viet
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    Navy trains sailors with high-tech warship simulator

    tuoi tre
    Updated : Thu, March 29, 2012,9:23 AM (GMT+0700)

    [[​IMG]
    An official of warship simulator at the Vietnam Naval Academy is offering guidance to trainees on operating and commanding a warship. Photo: Tuoi Tre

    In the bridge of a destroyer, Captain Hoang Van Tien gazed at the digital display while holding a phone to listen to reports from the navigation, surface warfare, gun fire and missile, and machinery units before giving the command to open fire.

    11 missiles left the launching pad to head towards the targets.

    This is part of a situation that naval officials of the Vietnam Naval Academy have been training for through a high-tech warship simulator named 1241.8 in order to become capable of carrying out their duties before heading out to sea.

    The 1241.8 simulates a state-of-the-art heavy-class destroyer equipped with Uran E anti-ship missiles and powerful raiding capabilities to attack surface and airborne targets.

    The simulator replicates the full range of maritime combatant operations likely to be experienced while on the bridge of a warship and can be reconfigured to match most classes of ship in the current fleet. Other functions include boat operations, interdiction and docking and beaching operations.

    Firepower to attack

    On this training day, naval officers were expected to handle a simulation in which a group of hostile surface warships were invading Vietnamese sovereignty and provoking a response at the co-ordinate X. The 1241.8 was commanded to head out to confront the enemy.

    The crew members were young officials, 22-24 years old, from class TP14 of the academy. They are assigned different tasks for the bridge team, navigation, combat information, gun power and missile, radar, and engine.

    Upon the command of Captain Tien, chief pilot Phan Ba Khanh sped towards the open sea at a speed of 38 nautical miles an hour.

    The staff of other units such as navigation, combat information, missile, radar, and engine repeatedly reported their status.

    With the simulator’s graphics system, crew on-board can experience different environmental conditions, from a clear day through to a raging storm, as well as detailed landscape and seascape features. On this day, rough seas battered the 500 ton ship for half an hour before radar information staff officer Luu Vinh Hai reported to the captain that he had detected two targets.

    “One target at distance of 35km at 31 degrees and moving speed of 6.2m a second. The other 37km away at 38 degrees and moving speed of 6.2m a second.”

    Captain Tien ordered the weaponry unit to prepare calculations for the most effective combat plan. In the missile unit room, officials Bui Ngoc Toan and Phung The Lat focused on the monitor and repeatedly reported their plans to the captain.

    Minutes later, the skipper ordered to open fire with missiles. 11 out of 16 missiles left the launching pad and headed towards the targets. The 1241.8 destroyer completed its tasks and returned to its base.

    [​IMG]
    Real-life fighting ship 1241.8 of Vietnam Navy

    A replication

    Destroyer 1241.8 is actually a concrete building located in the Vietnam Naval Academy. It uses computerized virtual reality software to simulate a working warship, complete with a wide view through the bridge windows.

    It comprises a series of rooms linked together in the same way as onboard an actual ship, creating a realistic environment for the sailors to practice and hone their skills.

    Each is laid out to represent a warship’s functioning rooms, such as the platform management system and control center, as well as rooms for the main machinery and high and low voltage switchboards, radar, gunfire and missile, navigation, engine and damage. All of these are integral to maintaining the ship’s functions.

    The control room offers trainees a very realistic experience of what it’s like on a combat ship. One can see the journey of the ship and feel high waves as if they are maneuvering a warship in the open seas.

    “With the modern simulator, we officials have a great chance to gain experience in real situations on a combat ship, master technical and management procedures aboard, and operate different types of weapons,” said Bui Sy Luong – a trainee.

    Officer Luu Vinh Hai stated that “regular training with the simulator helps me learn maneuvers, operations and combat situations by heart.”

    “Now, the academy is installing one more simulator for the Gepard 3.9 class warship. It is expected to begin operations next year.

    “This facility is at the cutting edge of simulator technology and provides seamen with very realistic training so that they will be capable of carrying out their duties before heading out to sea,” said Colonel Luong Manh Cuong, deputy chief political commissar of the academy.
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  5. INDIAISM
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    Navy is done but I think the biggest problem for vietnam in near future will be replacement of their Soviet era 150+ Mig21 and 50 su 22 fighter jets....they need atleast 12 Billion dollars for this......
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    We are just starting of building up the Navy. About the replacement of MIGs and other old figher planes, VN does not have such huge money to replace them, though these warplanes are still in good shape, we´re looking to "upgrade" them for the present need.
    Maybe our Chinese friends can donate some money to our Vietnam Army.

    :china:
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  7. INDIAISM
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    Or may be you should work on your relationship with America then you may get your hands on some used F16's or F18....i mean they will be alot better to counter chineese airforce then Mig 21's.......or you can go for Gripen C/D which will cost you around 30 million$......allthrough i would loved it if India would have been in a position to offer Tejas or Tejas Mk2 to Vietnam but it will take its time to develop and mature untill then we have to wait.....
  8. Fanling Monk
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    I'm too amazed where they get the money to pay for all these procurements and how they are going to pay for them. If the payments are in the arm merchants' local currencies they are in a bit of jam because the dong is going to lose value because of inflation.

    More than $2 billion for six submarines plus training and operation costs just for one segment of defense procurement is a lot of money for negative deterrent value.
  9. Viet
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    Well, Vietnam is currently negotiating with the U.S. in all aspects of military cooperations. First goal is to convince the U.S. to lift all santions from Vietnam. There are still a lot of US military hardware left over from the Vietnam war, if we receive spare parts we can re-use them.
    Again, Vietnam does not have resources to buy expensive weapons from the U.S. such as F16/F18s warplanes unless they give us for free or on loan basis.
    The same goes for India and Sweden.

    Even if we can buy some U.S. warplanes, one must consider that we must set up an infrastructure to maintain them.
  10. Abdi-Karim Elmi
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    Lol the Chinese navy would crush the viets no offence taken. Could they survive a blow from a Type 58 class ship with HQ ABM capabilities.
  11. Viet
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    About the Submarines, they are not only for some sort of deterrence, but for a good image of a Navy.

    I am surprised, too. I really don´t know how we can pay for all of these arms purchaces. And more things are expected to come soon. I guess we can pay back in 100 years. :rofl:
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    You can laugh all you want. You spend so much borrowed money on these expansive toys that give you no more line of credit for other developments like industrial and transportation infrastructures. Twenty years down the line don't come here crying trade deficits. You dig your own grave and you have to sleep in it.

    Your arm dealers will probably come knocking at your door before when you put your next order in. Bill to bill plus 5 points is the trade motto, didn't they tell you?
  13. Tshering22
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    Navy is not done buddy. Their navy needs a lot of new firepower with cutting edge technology. There is a long way to go but I am sure their government will be faster than ours.
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  14. Viet
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    Oh, I think if Vietnam spends one $US on arms purchase, we get one $US back in the country in compensation. China is welcome to take steps to reduce the threat on Vietnam, so that Vietnam can afford spending less on military.
    Besides, the major economic data of Vietnam for 2012 are not too bad (all data compared to 2011 unless stated otherwise):

    - inflation declined to 5 per cent in July from 23 per cent
    - trade deficit narrowed to US$58m in the first seven months compared to almost $6bn
    - the dong has been stable for most of the year
    - the credit-to-GDP ratio declined from 121 per cent in 2010 to 108 per cent in 2011
    - imports weakened to a 9 per cent growth from 13.6 per cent
    - export growth is likely to be only 13.7 and not 16.6 per cent
    - forex reserves may reach $20 billion, up by 25%
    - gdp 2012 expected to grow at 6%

    Inflation falls from 23% to 5% in one year | Vietnam Business News
  15. Viet
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    ...and
    Vietnam unemployment rate remains nearly unchanged at 2.29% in H1/2012 compared to 2.3 % in 2011.