India plans to supply Vietnam BrahMos missiles
New Delhi sends strong message ahead of Chinese prez visit
Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s maiden visit to India, New Delhi on Friday sent out a strong message about its desire to play a greater role in regional security in South-East Asia, making public its plan to supply BrahMos cruise missiles to Vietnam.
With President Pranab Mukherjee set to leave for a four-day visit to Vietnam on Sunday, New Delhi confirmed that it was in talks with Hanoi for supply of BrahMos missiles to the South East Asian country, which was locked in a territorial dispute with China.
Briefing mediapersons about Mukherjee’s forthcoming visit to Vietnam, Anil Wadhwa, the secretary (east) of the Ministry of External Affairs, said that defence officials of New Delhi and Hanoi were discussing a proposal for supply of BrahMos missiles to Vietnam.
Wadhwa declined to provide details about the progress in India’s talks with Vietnam. Sources, however, told Deccan Herald that the talks were in an advanced stage and Moscow had already informally given its nod to New Delhi for supply of the missiles to the South-East Asian country.
New Delhi had to obtain Moscow’s nod as the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles are produced by a joint venture of Defence Research and Development Organisation and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia.
Several countries like Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia evinced interest in importing the BrahMos. Sources, however, said that Vietnam could be the first country to have a deal with BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited for import of the missiles.
Moscow and Hanoi have also been discussing about a proposal for a joint programme for developing a missile system in Vietnam based on the Kh-35 Uran of Russia.
The negotiations, however, could not make much headway, although Hanoi has of late been keen to strengthen its arsenal to address its immediate security concerns, arising out of its escalating tension with Beijing over conflicting territorial claims in the waters of South China Sea. During the visit of general secretary of Vietnam Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, to India in November 2013, Hanoi proposed negotiations with New Delhi for supply of the BrahMos missiles.
New Delhi also offered Hanoi a credit line worth about $100 million to procure military hardware from India. The discussion on the modalities for implementation of the credit line is expected to get a fillip during Mukherjee’s visit to Hanoi.