Vietnam Buys More Defense Equipment from Israel
Vietnam took delivery last month of a second batch of Rafael Python and Derby (SPYDER) surface-to-air missiles. The first batch was delivered last July, but that was not the first time the communist state had sourced defense equipment from Israel. And Vietnam could be the customer for a $110 million upgrade of Mil Mi-17 helicopters that Elbit Systems has recently secured from “an Asia-Pacific country.”
Vietnam signed a deal for the Spyder system on October 2015. Not disclosed is whether the deal was for the short-range (SR) or the medium-range (MR) variant. Mounted on the Rheinmetall MAN HX 8x8 trucks, Vietnam’s package also includes 200 Derby and Python missiles each.
Since the end of Vietnam War, Russia and Eastern-bloc states such as Romania and Ukraine have been Vietnam’s main arms suppliers. However, in the last decade Hanoi has bought Western military equipment, and in the last five years, Israeli products. The latter have included the IAI-Elta EL/M-2288 air defence radar and EL/M-2022 airborne radar for three Guardian 400 maritime patrol aircraft based on the DHC-6 Twin Otter, and supplied by Viking Air of Canada.
The Mi-17 contract that Elbit Systems announced on February 8 includes upgrading and maintaining of “dozens” of Mi-17 helicopters over a five-year period. With a value of $110 million, it is much larger than the $30 million deal that Elbit struck a week later with Indian firm Alpha Design for work on 90 Indian Air Force Mi-17s. The upgrade for the “Asia-Pacific country” could include new cockpit displays, digital voice recorder and missile-launch-detection systems. Vietnam has more than 80 Mi-8/Mi-17s in service, the bulk of which were delivered in the 1970s.
Elbit Systems president and CEO Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, said: “Since the ‘aging helicopter’ market is growing rapidly and includes numerous Eastern platforms, we hope other customers will follow the selection of our modernization solutions.”
Vietnam has been boosting its defenses in response to the Chinese military build-up in South China Sea. In 2015, Hanoi spent $4.57 billion on defense, putting Su-30MK2V fighters, anti-ship missiles as well as a multitude of air defense missiles into service.
Source: by Chen Chuanren - AIN Online, Defense News - March 1, 2017
Photo: Elbit Systems won a contract to work on India’s Mi-17s, and a much larger one to upgrade Mi-17s for an “Asia-Pacific country.” (Photo by Vladimir Karnozov)