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Vietnam signs US$350 million deal to buy jets from Russia

The purchase confirms that Russia is the biggest arms supplier of Vietnam.

Vietnam signed a US$350 million deal in 2019 to buy a dozen of combat training aircraft from Russia, the Vedomosti business daily reported on January 28.

The purchase deal covers at least 12 Yak-130 combat training jets, Vedomosti cited two unnamed Russian defense industry executives as saying, giving no details about the delivery time.

A Vietnamese Kilo-class submarine bought from Russia. Photo: AFP

Yak-130 jet is designed for training pilots of advanced fighter aircraft. It can also be equipped with air-to-surface weapons including guided missiles and bombs.

According to Vedomosti, Vietnam would be the sixth country to import the Yak-130, following Algeria, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, and Belarus.

The contract paves the way for the purchase of more advanced jets from Russia, including the Su-30SM and the Su-35, military expert and Arms Exports magazine editor-in-chief Andrei Frolov was cited as saying.

Russia is the biggest arms supplier to Vietnam and Southeast Asia. In 2018, Vietnam ordered a fleet of Russian-made fighter jets, surface ships, and submarines worth more than US$1 billion, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

Earlier, Vietnam bought six Kilo-class submarines worth more than US$2 billion.

Vietnam has been one of the world’s most active arms importers in recent years, according to Reuters.

Hanoi stepped up its imports amid China’s increasingly aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea, where the neighbors have long-standing rival claims.

Vietnam is ranked 23th out of 137 countries and second in Southeast Asia after Indonesia in the military strength ranking 2019 of US-based Global Firepower.

The rating is based on 55 parameters, including military resources, diversity of weapon systems, natural resources, geographical features, finances and available manpower.

The military strength is formed by three main sectors namely airpower, land strength and naval strength.