Vietnam to buy dozen Sukhoi fighter planes from Russia

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A Sukhoi Su-30MK2 used by Vietnam army taking off. Photo by Do Hung - Tan Tu 

Vietnam has signed a contract to buy 12 Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia, which is its third purchase of this aircraft, Interfax reported Tuesday (August 20).

The Su-30MK2 combat aircraft made by Sukhoi, a major Russian aircraft maker, will be delivered in 2014 and 2015 under a deal signed last week, the Russia-based news agency cited a military-diplomatic source as saying.

Experts estimate that the contract is worth more than US$600 million, according to Interfax.

Two previous contracts for eight and twelve aircraft respectively have been successfully completed, the unnamed source said.

The first purchase contract was worth about $400 million and the second about $1 billion, according to news reports.

Under these contracts, Russia supplies Vietnam with aircraft, equipment and spare parts.

Russia, the second biggest arms exporter after the US, has delivered more than 130 Sukhoi Su-30MK2 to China, Indonesia, Venezuela and Vietnam, Interfax reported.

The Sukhoi Su-30MK2 can travel at twice the speed of sound. It can carry guided aerial bombs and missiles, and attack targets in the air, on the ground and at sea.

Apart from Sukhoi fighters, Vietnam has also ordered from a Russian company six Varshavyanka-class submarines, an improvement on the older Kilo-class, which are designed to carry out anti-submarine and anti-ship missions in relatively shallow waters, general reconnaissance, and patrols.

The diesel-electric submarines, nicknamed "black holes" for their ability to remain undetected under water, were bought under a $2-billion deal signed in 2009 during the visit of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to Russia.

Russia has promised to deliver all of them by 2016, train Vietnamese crew, and supply necessary spares.

The first two submarines were successfully launched in August and December 2012, while the third is expected to be launched this month. The first one, named HQ-182 Hanoi, is set to be handed over to Vietnam in November.

Vietnam has said its purchases are exclusively meant for self-defense purposes.

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