Vietnam could become a key importer of Russian weaponry if several contracts on the purchase of diesel submarines and aircraft are signed in the near future, a Russian newspaper said.
According to the Vedomosti business daily, Moscow and Hanoi are close to sign deals on the purchase of six Kilo class diesel-electric submarines and 12 Su-30MK2 Flanker-C multirole fighters.
The submarine contract, worth an estimated $1.8 billion, includes the construction of on-shore infrastructure and training of submarine crews and will be the second largest submarine contract concluded by Russia since the Soviet era after the 2002 deal on the delivery of eight subs to China.
The Project 636 Kilo class submarine is thought to be one of the most silent submarine classes in the world. It has been specifically designed for anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations in relatively shallow waters.
Russia has built Kilo class submarines for India, China and Iran.
Vedomosti also cited sources in Russia’s aircraft manufacturing industry as saying a new contract on the delivery of 12 Su-30MK2 fighter jets in addition to eight aircraft of the same type ordered by Vietnam in January 2009.
Su-30MK2 is an advanced two-seat version of the Su-27 Flanker multirole fighter with upgraded electronics and capability to launch anti-ship missiles.
The new contract could be worth at least $600 million, not including the price of on-board weaponry.
In addition, Russia could sign a deal with Vietnam on the delivery of a large number of Mi-17 helicopters, a source in the Russian Helicopters company said during the LIMA 2009 arms show in Malaysia on Wednesday.
According to Russian military analyst Konstantin Makiyenko, the new deals will push Vietnam to the top of the list of major buyers of the Russian weaponry, as the share of China and India in Russia’s arms exports is gradually declining.