Eye on China, Delhi offers heavy torpedoes to Vietnam
New Delhi: India is now also looking to export its new Varunastra anti-submarine torpedoes to Vietnam after earlier initiating talks with the country for the sale of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles . This forms part of India’s overall policy to steadily crank up military ties with Vietnam, both in terms of military supplies as well as training of Vietnamese personnel on Kilo-class submarines as well as Sukhoi-30MKI fighters.
Both countries are concerned about China’s assertive behaviour in the Asia-Pacific region, especially its strongarm tactics in the contentious South China Sea where India has an oil-gas exploration bloc off the coast of Vietnam.
India, of course, is also now keen to sell the BrahMos, “a precision-strike conventional weapon” developed in collaboration with Russia, to other countries like Indonesia and the Philippines as well as a few in the Gulf and Latin America.
With a range of 290km, the existing BrahMos does not fall under the ambit of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which basically seeks to regulate export of missile and drone technology over 300-km range.
Conversely, as an MTCR member now, India will not be able to sell an “extended-range” version of BrahMos to Vietnam since it is not part of the grouping. As earlier reported by TOI, defence minister Manohar Parrikar had discussed the sale of the existing BrahMos missiles during his visit to Vietnam on June 6-7, apart from offshore patrol boats as well as stepped-up military training and exercises.
On Wednesday, Parrikar formally handed over the indigenously-developed Varunastra heavyweight electric torpedoes, which have a 20km strike range, to the Navy. With only eight countries capable of designing and building such torpedoes, Parrikar asked DRDO and its Naval Science and Technological Laboratory to actively work to export them.
An official, in turn, said the sale of Varunastra to Vietnam had already been discussed during Parrikar’s visit to Hanoi earlier this month. “With our Navy now inducting and ordering an initial 63 torpedoes, their export to Vietnam will get the requisite push,” he said.
The torpedoes, which have a 95% indigenous content and 250kg of explosives, are meant for launch from warships against enemy submarines.