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Vietnam To Receive Six Kilo-class Submarines By 2016

March 6, 2014

Russian Kilo-class submarine 02

By 2016 Vietnam expects to possess one of Southeast Asia’s more formidable navies. In a region where defense budgets are tight, Vietnam is carefully buying naval assets that give it an edge should it confront China’s moves along its maritime borders.

To this end, its People’s Navy is due an additional five Kilo-class submarines from Russia. The diesel electric Kilo-class is the most successfully exported Russian submarine, having been sold to Poland, India, Algeria, China, and Iran.

During the previous decade, with Vietnam gradually integrating with the global economy, its government signed contracts for six Kilo-class submarines from its longstanding ally Russia. The $2 billion contracts will be fulfilled by St. Petersburg’s Rubin, also know as the Central Design Bureau for Maritime Engineering.

So far only one submarine has reportedly been delivered. It arrived in November last year as the HQ 182 Hanoi and was commissioned by January. The submarines Vietnam ordered are the Project 636M. Based on specifications listed on Rubin’s website, the Type 636 is the most modern variant of its conventional submarine line.

Compared to its siblings, the Project 636’s surface displacement is higher, reaching 2,350 cubic meters. Its submerged speed is 19 knots and is capable of diving to 300 meters. The ideal crew is 52 sailors with supplies for 45 days of continuous operation.

The engineering behind the Kilo-class is what makes it so successful. Its electric batteries allow it to run silent for extended periods, making it a dedicated submarine-hunter suited for long-range patrols. the Kilo-class is armed with six forward-facing torpedo tubes that can also launch mines. A separate launcher allows it to fire different missiles for air, sea, and land targets.

Two additional Gepard-class frigates built by Russia’s Zenelodolsk Design Bureau  are expected to join Vietnam’s naval fleet within the same time frame as the submarines.