DRDO's Akash Surface-To-Air missile defence system

India and Vietnam have discussed key issues, including sale of missile systems and helicopters from India, during their 11th Strategic Dialogue held in national capital on Wednesday

by Pradip R Sagar

Visiting Vietnamese delegation, led by Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, deputy minister of national defence, discussed various issues with the Indian delegation, led by the Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, in South block.

During the hour-long meet, both the sides discussed the issue of sale of Akash, surface-to-air missile systems (SAMS), and Dhruv, advanced light helicopters.

Besides missile systems and helicopters, both the sides also took stock of the process of selling India-Russia joint venture BrahMos missile to Hanoi. So far, five countries have expressed their intent to procure BrahMos missile.

"Today's discussion was focused on enhancing the existing defence and strategic cooperation mechanism. Various issues, including sale of missiles and other military hardware, alongwith military-to-military cooperation, were taken up for discussion," said a defence ministry official.

India is already providing training to Vietnamese Air Force pilots for their recently inducted Sukhoi 30 fighter jet from Russia. Simultaneously, India has given training to 20 officers and 40 sailors from Vietnam Peoples Navy at the Indian Navy’s premier training school, INS Satavahana in Visakhapatnam. These Vietnamese Navy personnel will man the six Russian-built Kilo class submarines.

Defence ties between New Delhi and Hanoi were in the spotlight during Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's visit to Vietnam last month. In a major step, defence public sector undertaking Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), has opened its office in Hanoi. The opening of the office is an outreach attempt by India's defence production, not just in Vietnam but in Southeast Asia as well. BEL, which produces radars, military communications, electronic warfare and coastal surveillance, is eyeing on markets in countries including Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, China has reacted sharply to the sale of missile by India to Hanoi saying any move by India to step-up military ties with Vietnam to counter China will create "disturbance" in the region and Beijing will not "sit with its arms crossed".