Vietnam joins submarine arms race amid South China Sea tensions


Vietnam finally has a new weapon against the Chinese maritime expansion after receiving its first Kilo-class submarine from Russia on the last day of 2013, according to the Washington-based Strategy Page on Feb. 20.

The submarine is the first of six 2,300-tonne Kilo-class submarines to arrive in Vietnam after the country signed a US$2.1 billion deal with Russia in 2009. The submarines are likely to be based at Cam Ranh Bay, a deep water port located in southern Vietnam, Strategy Page said. The port was once used by the United States Navy during the Vietnam War, and later became a naval facility of the former Soviet Union.

A Kilo-class submarine is capable of carrying 18 torpedoes or SS-N-27 anti-ship missiles. The SS-N-27 can be launched underwater from the torpedo tubes and its range is estimated to be 300 kilometers. Combined with its quietness and Russian cruise missiles, the Kilo-class submarine is a very dangerous weapon against the surface combat vessels of the People’s Liberation Army Navy operating in the disputed South China Sea, the report said.


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