These missiles are the short range surface-to-air missiles that will be sold to Vietnam. The interceptor boats were sold to Vietnamese Navy by private defence company, L&T. Both the sale of interceptor boats and missiles to friendly nations like Vietnam are in line with PM Narendra Modi’s Act East Policy be its first transfer of such weapons to the Southeast Asian country.

It may be recalled that in 2016, Modi announced a $500 million credit line to Vietnam to buy defence equipment, on top of a $100 million given previously to help it buy interceptor patrol boats. Significantly, the two sides have also agreed for training of Vietnamese air force pilots to operate Su-30 Russian fighter planes.

Dr Christopher said while DRDO is currently talking to a number of countries for sales of its surface-to-air Akash missiles, Vietnam is one such nation where it will sell them. “We are talking to countries, one of them is none other than Vietnam,” Chairman DRDO Dr S Christopher said while addressing a news conference on the sidelines of Aero India 2017 in Bengaluru.

The move is also in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to establish India as an arms exporter.

At the air show, DRDO is showcasing its missile programmes and other key projects, including a home-grown light combat fighter. Dr Christopher did not however provide any details of how many Akash missile batteries the government planned to supply Vietnam.

Vietnam is in the midst of a quiet military buildup that analysts say is designed as a deterrent, to secure its 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone as China grows more assertive in staking its claims in the South China Sea. Experts say Vietnam is in the market for fighter jets and more advanced missile systems, in addition to the kilo-class submarines it has bought from Russia.

India, which is also sparring with China over a border dispute, has in the past considered the sale of its Brahmos supersonic missile with a range of 290 kms to Vietnam and has been steadily helping Hanoi beef up its defences. As per the DRDO chief, efforts are on to find overseas buyers for homegrown products and technologies such as the light combat fighter (LCA), pilotless aircraft Rustom-1 and Rustom-2/Tapas, the small AEW&CS plane for surveillance, and the Astra and Pinaka missiles.

It is as part of this strategy, DRDO will encourage potential overseas customers to fly in the LCA’s trainer version during the Aero India, which begins on February 14. For the first time, the DRDO outdoor display showcased a real Tejas LCA aircraft at Aero India 2016.

Export of its products is the DRDO’s key agenda this year, Dr. Christopher said, adding, “We are geared up to do it. We have come to the extent of showcasing our fighter aircraft to the world and demonstrate the LCA to customers. It will be a good return on the investments if we produce them at a reasonable cost and export them. It will also do the nation good.”

By Team Defence Aviation Post (.in)- February 16, 2017