Vietnam will have a modern fleet with six Kilo-class submarines in the next five or six years, newly re-elected Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh told the media on Wednesday (August 3).
The purchase is part of a project to modernize the military by 2020, he said on the sidelines of the ongoing parliamentary session.
Asked whether many countries modernizing their military could prompt an arms race, he said, "I don't think this is an arms race because the military is tasked with maintaining peace and protect their nation's sovereignty. It's normal to see military modernization of these countries, including Vietnam.
"If we buy submarines, missiles, aircrafts and other arms, it is for defense purposes and to protect the country, and there is no intention to threaten or invade other countries' territories," he said.
Vietnam's marine police have recently received one C212-400 Airbus Military aircraft from Spain.
This is the first delivery in a package of three such aircraft that Vietnam has purchased. The second one will be delivered late this year and the third one in early 2012.
Vietnam has sent pilots to be trained for operating the marine patrol aircraft at the Airbus Military Training Center in Seville in Spain.
Thanh said that Vietnam would modernize its military focusing on training forces to master modern technology. He said improving the nation's military capability will focus on modernizing all three branches the army, the navy and the air force. The nation would also improve its communication and electronic warfare capabilities.
"When an economy grows, its military should be modernized to improve its defense capacity," he said.
Asked about Vietnam's policy on resolving East Sea disputes, Thanh said bilateral disputes will be solved bilaterally, like disputes over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago between Vietnam and China, based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and International Law.
However, disputes over the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago should be solved multilaterally because it involves several parties, including Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Malaysia, he said.
He said Vietnam and ASEAN are "relatively united" in the joint communiqué on East Sea disputes issued at a recent defense ministerial meeting in Indonesia, which agrees that disputes should be resolved peacefully based on international laws.