Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with General Phan Van Giang, the Minister of National Defence of Vietnam, in New Delhi on Monday (All images courtesy: Ministry of Defence)
India on Monday announced the gifting of indigenously-built in-service Missile Corvette INS Kirpan to Vietnam, thus further enhancing the capabilities of the Southeast Asian country’s Navy which is constantly tackling China’s strategic expansion in the region.
The decision was made after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with General Phan Van Giang, the Minister of National Defence of Vietnam, in New Delhi.
Indian Naval Ship Kirpan, the third Khukri class missile corvette, is capable of speed in excess of 25 knots and fitted with a medium-range gun, 30 mm close-range guns, chaff launchers besides surface-to-surface missiles.
The features enable the ship to perform a wide variety of roles including coastal and off-shore patrol, coastal security, surface warfare, anti-piracy and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
“Both Ministers identified means to enhance existing areas of collaboration, especially in the field of defence industry cooperation, maritime security and multinational cooperation,” the Indian Defence Ministry said in a statement later.
Last year, during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Hanoi, India handed over 12 High-Speed Guard Boats to Vietnam People’s Navy which remains worried about China’s strategic expansion into the South China Sea.
The state-of-the-art boats were handed over by Singh in a ceremony organised at Hong Ha Shipyard in Hai Phong as Singh invited Vietnam to become a part of India’s defence industrial transformation through enhanced cooperation that will take forward PM Modi’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’.
Both countries had also signed a ‘Joint Vision Statement on Defence Partnership towards 2030’ and inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Mutual Logistics Support, significantly enhancing the scope and scale of existing bilateral defence cooperation.
Vietnam remains an important pillar of India’s Act East Policy and a key partner of its Indo-Pacific Vision underlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) initiative.
Signalling its desire to have a less intertwined future with China, Vietnam has been deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with New Delhi since 2016 to maintain peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
Singh has spotlighted that both countries share a rich history of civilisational and cultural linkages spanning over 2,000 years.
“Progress on various bilateral defence cooperation initiatives was reviewed during the meeting, with both sides expressing satisfaction at the ongoing engagements,” said the Indian Defence Ministry after the talks between two ministers on Monday.
India – Vietnam bilateral Meeting; Stregthening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
— A. Bharat Bhushan Babu (@SpokespersonMoD) June 19, 2023
A Politburo member of Vietnam’s Communist Party and Deputy Secretary of the Central Military Commission, General Giang also visited the headquarters of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and discussed ways to enhance defence industrial capabilities by cooperation in defence research and joint production.
Interestingly, after the Philippines, Vietnam too has shown interest in acquiring BrahMos – the potent offensive missile weapon system developed through the joint venture between India (DRDO) and Russia (NPOM) – to strengthen its coastal defence operations.
Earlier in the day, General Giang laid a wreath at the National War Memorial and paid homage to the fallen heroes.
As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, there have been quite a few high-level interactions between the two nations recently, including the meeting between PM Modi and Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit in Hiroshima, last month.
Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security General To Lam also travelled to New Delhi two months ago at the invitation of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.
A detailed plan to enhance the linkages on strategic, security and defence matters has been worked out as both nations have expressed concerns about actions and incidents in the South China Sea that erode trust in the region.
With India being the current chair of the world’s leading group of developed and emerging economies (G20), Vietnam has also thanked India for highlighting the perspectives and concerns of the Global South and always supporting its role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).