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Vietnamese People's Air Force - Modernization

Any modern aircraft that are purchased in the near future will likely be of Russian origin, and thus will need to be returned in order for repairs or upgrades to be completed, further diminishing the air force's combat readiness.

India and Vietnam signed a major Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in March 2000, under which India would overhaul Vietnamís fleet of MiG-21 aircraft [100 aircraft, by one report] and provide training assistance for Vietnamese fighter pilots and technicians. In March 2005, Vietnamís Chief of the General Staff visited India to discuss further Indian assistance in overhauling MiG fighters. And in October 2006, India supplied Vietnam with a number of spare parts for its MiG-21 combat aircraft.

In 2004, Vietnam reportedly acquired from four to ten Su-22M4 ground attack fighters from the Czech Republic including spare parts and ammunition. Vietnam then reached a deal with the Ukraine to upgrade a number of these aircraft so they could launch anti-ship missiles. In 2007 Vietnam purchased 40 second-hand Sukhoi Su-22M4 fighter bombers from Polandís Profus Management.

Su-27 / Su-30MK

In the mid-1990s Vietnam put an end to the protracted decay of military and technical cooperation with Moscow, and joined the club of Russian aircraft operators. In 1995, Vietnam acquired an initial batch of six Su-27 aircraft assigned to 935 Fighter Regiment at Phan Rang, including five Su-27SK and one Su-27UBK, for a total of US$ 150 million. In 1997, Hanoi opted for a second batch of six Flankers (five Su-27SK and one Su-27UBK again). Two Su-27UBKs were lost on delivery when their An-124 crashed at Irkutsk on 6 December 1997. They were replaced by two Su-27PUs in the summer of 1998.

Russiaís official arms trader Rosoboronexport signed a deal to ship four Su-30MKs to Vietnam in December 2003. The baseline Su-30MK version was modified to meet the requirements of the Vietnamese Air Force with all aircraft supplies fulfilled in 2004. The total contract price, taking into account the prices of the baseline version, weapons, spares and adjustments, reached about US$120 million.

Four Su-30MK2Vs were delivered in November 2004, with some 24 delivered by late 2012. In 2009, Vietnam ordered 8 Russian Su-30MK2V Flanker fighters with a value of US$400-500 million (without weapons). Russia completed and handed over to Vietnam the 8 aircraft in the period 2010-2011. In February 2010 Russia and Vietnam agreed to a US$1 billion deal for another 12 Su-30MK2V aircraft, this time with weapons. Russia transferred 8 planes to Vietnam in 2011, with 4 Su-30MK2V scheduled to be delivered in 2012. 935 Fighter Regiment seems to have moved to Bien Hoa by 2009. In 2011, all Su-27s were transferred to 940 Fighter Training Regiment at Phu Cat, leaving only Su-30MK2Vs on 935 Fighter Regimentís roster. From June 2011, 923 Fighter Bomber Regiment at Tho Xuan replaced its obsolete Su-22s with Su-30MK2Vs, with a dozen delivered. However, in early March 2012, one Su-30MK2V crashed during flight tests.

In addition to planes proper, the customer received weapons and spares for both these and earlier delivered aircraft. Taking into account the additional purchase of Su-30MKs, Sukhoi was considering a regional maintenance center for its aircraft to be established in Vietnam, but nothing came of this idea.

Anton Chernow, of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, said "With the advanced equipment systems, the Vietnam People's Air Force's Su-30MK2V is the most modern in Asia". According to the Russian Defense Ministry, in addition to weapons configuration, electronics on the basic Su-30MK for export to China, Indonesia, Algeria, the Su-30MK2V of Vietnam had a few upgrades, avionics systems and avionic systems new position, new combat system like in the Su-30MKM of Malaysia, but the Su-30MK2V of Vietnam is "superior". In addition, Vietnam's Su-30MK2V also integrated electronic counter measures system (ECM) may be new to combat the high interference condition of the enemy.

Vietnam expressed interest in buying another 30 Su-30 aircraft after the full 12 Su-30MK2V of the contract in 2010. If the purchase of 30 new aircraft came through, the Vietnam People's Air Force would have in all 253 fighters on the payroll.

In August 2013, by one report Vietnam ordered a further 12 Su-30MK2, with deliveries from 2014 to 2015. Flightglobal reports the order to be for 20 aircraft, not 12.

In 2012 a group of Vietnamese military experts went to Belarus and expressed desire to buy 18 Su-30K aircraft modernized to the Su-30KN standard. This would be the first time there are two companies of Russian weapons in Vietnam market. Previously, the delivery of Su-30 aircraft for Air Force Vietnam was conducted in the aircraft factory Aviation Association in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a member of the Corporation National Aeronautics Russia (UAC). The 18 Su-30K aircraft are located in Belarus and owned by the Irkut Aviation Corporation, another part of the UAC. For the 18 Su-30K aircraft in Belarus, the price would be US$270 million (about $ 15 million for an aircraft has been modernized to the KN standard), compared with the current value of the 18 new Su-30 (more than $ 1 billion).

In the near future, further Su-30 deliveries were expected to replace the remaining Su-22s and a portion of the MiG-21bis fleet. One rumor, according to Scramble, was that, after years of storage with the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant in Baranovichi (Belarus), 18 former IAF Su-30Ks rejected due to engine problems suffered in 2003 will be upgraded to Su-30KN standards and acquired by the VPAF.


In 2008, Vietnam ordered 10 Yak-52 trainer aircraft from Romania. Vietnam received ten new Yak-52 trainers from the Aerostar factory in Bacau, Rumania, between late 2009 and 2011. They are used by 920 Training Regiment at Nha Trang. Scramble reports the 910 Training Regiment moved from Nha Trang to Dong Tac (Tuy Hoa) in late 2003. It still operates the L-39C, and received fourteen additional aircraft from Ukraine and Czech Republic between 2002 and 2008.

Between 6 and 12 [some sources report eight] Yak-130UBS trainers were expected to replace the L-39 in the 2015-2025 timeframe. This was reported within the framework of the Airshow MAKS-2011, although no order has been signed as of mid-2014.

By early 2017 Vietnam was choosing between Russian Yak-130 and Czech L-39 New Generation planes for its future center for training pilots of supersonic fighter aircraft. The Russians note that the L-39 is a single-engine plane and its avionics no longer fit that of modern warplanes like Su-30, Su-35 and MiG-35. This meant that it can no longer be used as a trainer for modern-day pilots.

The Vietnamese need a trainer with characteristics that are as close as possible to those of supersonic warplanes their young pilots will fly on. However, the subsonic Yak-130 is fully equipped to imitate a planeís behavior in conditions of supersonic flight which is a regime rarely used even by modern fighter jets.

Transport Aircraft

The three C295 transport aircraft that Vietnam ordered from Airbus Defence and Space (DS) were scheduled to enter service with the Vietnamese air force from 2015, IHS Jane's reported in July 2014. The purchase contract - secured in 2013 at a cost of about US$100 million - also included spares, maintenance, and training to the air force, which is expected to take delivery of the aircraft at intervals of about six months. It is also understood that the aircraft were sold to Vietnam in a basic transport configuration with no additional mission systems included.

Air Defense

Edward OíDowd wrote in 2007 that "[t]he Vietnamese air defenses, particularly around the Red River Delta, were, in the 1970s, among the best in the world". But Vietnamís air defense system began to decay following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and in the following years became outdated.

In August 2003, Russia agreed to supply Vietnam with two batteries of S-300PMU1 surface-to-air missile systems in a contract valued at U.S. $200 million. The first S-300PMU1 battery of twelve missile launchers and sixty-two missiles was delivered in August 2005.

Vietnam signed a contract with Tetraedr for an upgrade package for over 30 emplacements of the S-125 air defense missile "Pechora-M" to the standard S-125-2TM Pechora-2TM. Tetraedr development is the combination medium-range air defense missiles S-125-2TM. Tetraedr was founded April 26, 2001 in the capital, Minsk, Republic of Belarus. In the process of modernization, the basic parts to be replaced, equipped with photovoltaic "day-night" systems and defensive radio techniques to deal with anti-radar missiles. Two missile are mounted on truck chassis produce by the Minsk factory.

The S-125-2TM Pechora-2TM would equip at least 10 air defense missile regiments (the 8th regiment using Pechora-2M includes regiment 213, 250, 257, 274, 276, 282, 284 and regiment 285). In October 2010, the vehicles and components to upgrade the S-125 "Pechora-M" in first phase of this contract was transported to Noi Bai airport.

After a period of upgrade of the Pechora-2TM at the A31 Factory, Department of Engineering, Air Defense-Air Force, 152 Battalion of the 250 Missile Regiment was the first unit to receive the weaponry refurbished. From 26 to 28 March 2011, the Battalion 152 and Tetraedr experts, A31 Factory and Technical Department of the Air Force and Air Defense tested the missiles. During the firings, 152 battalions used the equipment of S-125-2TM fired a total of six missiles (1 missiles on 26/03/2011 and 5 missiles on 28/3/2011) kill the six target aircraft, results killing 100%.

The second unit to receive the S-125-2TM was the 122 Battalion of the Regiment 284. During live firing drills from 1 to 5 December 2011 at TB1, Battalion 122 with technical experts Tetraedr conducted successful test firing of the S-125-2TM with the performance of the equipment of 152 Battalion.

Vietnam has shown great interest in purchasing Russia's cutting-edge S-400 Triumph missile defense system, and with good reason: the air defense system is regarded by many as second to none in terms of combat capabilities. Moreover, Hanoi is happy with its experience using Russian-made anti-aircraft weapons. Russia is Hanoi's oldest, most reliable weapons development partner.

By 2017 an unspecified number of Israeli Python-5 missiles had been supplied to Vietnam for use by the countryís Israeli-made Spyder-SR short and medium range mobile air defense system, and that some of these missiles can be installed on Soviet and Russian made warplanes.

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Page last modified: 28-12-2017 18:40:28 ZULU