India, Vietnam in Advanced Talks for Surface-to-Air Akash Missile Sale Amid China's Warning
India is in advanced talks to sell its short range surface-to-air missiles Akash to Vietnam, the head of a defense research agency said on Wednesday. The move, which would mark the first transfer of such weapon to the Southeast Asian nation, comes despite stern warning from China.
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"India and Vietnam share a strategic partnership. Defense cooperation, including supply of defense equipment, is an important aspect of this partnership. Both countries have held discussions on range of issues in this regard," Subhash Bhamre, India's State Defense minister, said, when asked if New Delhi proposes to sell the homegrown Akash surface-to-air missile system and BrahMos missiles to Vietnam.
India has been helping Vietnam with military training and vessel patrols and attempting to become Hanoi's major weapon supplier. However, the deepening of ties with missile sales has been criticized by China which has been locked in a territorial dispute with Hanoi in the South China Sea, NDTV reported.
Currently, New Delhi is trying to sell its surface-to-air Akash missiles to several countries, S. Christopher, chairman of state-owned Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said, noting that one of these countries "is none other than Vietnam." He, however, did not elaborate how many Akash missile batteries India plans to supply Hanoi.
Vietnam has been discreetly building its military to defend its 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, which China has been asserting claims. Experts said that other than the Russian submarines it recently acquired, Vietnam is also eyeing for fighter jets and more advanced missile systems.
Meanwhile, India will also likely sell the BrahMos supersonic missile, although it requires Russia's approval. The DRDO did not specify any other details with regard to the BrahMos missiles.