Vietnam’s Modernizing Navy Confronts China’s Sea Power

Vietnam’s Modernizing Navy Confronts China’s Sea Power
Vietnam People’s Navy honor guard at the ASEAN defense ministers meeting, Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 12, 2010 (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison).

As China attempts to assert maritime claims against neighboring Vietnam, Vietnam in turn has been expanding its navy and courting new allies, such as India. In an email interview, Abhijit Singh, a research fellow at India’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, discusses the capabilities of the Vietnamese navy, known as the Vietnam People's Navy.

WPR: What is Vietnam’s naval capacity, and how operationally prepared is its navy?

Abhijit Singh: Vietnam’s navy has modernized from a small coastal patrol force with limited capacity in the 1980s into a seagoing, fairly competent, combat-worthy navy. Equipped with old Soviet-era hardware and an assortment of small seagoing vessels until a decade ago, it has now upgraded itself into a modern, though still compact, fighting force. The force today consists of frigates, corvettes, patrol craft, missile boats, maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and even submarines. Unable to effectively defend its maritime stakes for much of the 1990s and 2000s, the recent improvements in the Vietnamese navy’s operational capability have expanded its ability protect its waters.

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