high accuracy. The improved Kilo can also fire anti-ship cruise missiles from its torpedotubes. The Kilo also carries MANPADS Strela-3 antiaircraft missiles.
In June 2010 it was reported that the total cost of Vietnam’s submarine package had risen
from the original estimates of $1.8-$2.1 billion to $3.2 billion. The additional costs included
armaments and infrastructure construction. Industry sources report that Vietnam’s Kilo
-submarines will be equipped with either the 53-56 or TEST 76 heavy torpedoes. Industry
sources also speculate that Vietnam’s Kilo
s will be kitted out with anti-ship missiles, such asthe 3M-54E or 3M-54E1. In July 2011, Oleg Azizov, a representative of Rosoboronexport,confirmed that Vietnam will take delivery of the deadly Novator Club-S (SS-N-27) anti-shipcruise missile with a range of 300 kilometers.
Vietnam is acquiring Kilo-class submarines for operations in the relatively shallow waters of
the South China Sea. When they commence operations they will enhance Vietnam’s
maritime domain awareness about the operations of foreign paramilitary and naval vessels
in waters off Vietnam’s coastline and in waters surrounding the Spratly Islands. In addition,
the Kilo submarines will provide a deterrent against the contingency that China mightattempt to quickly seize an island or feature occupied by Vietnam in the South China Sea.More generally, the Kilos will provide a modest but potent anti-access/area denial capability
against intimidation by Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy warships.
Before Vietnam acquires these capabilities it will have to absorb the Kilos into its forcestructure and transition from a two-dimensional (surface and air) to a three- dimensionalforce. Vietnam will also need to find the funding for maintenance and repair to keep theKilos operational and develop a capable submarine rescue capability. Industry analystspredict that Vietnam will fall somewhere between Singapore and Indonesia in its ability toabsorb the Kilos and produce effective capability. These analysts say much depends onsustained Russian and Indian support over the coming years for Vietnam to develop a trulymodern submarine fleet.
Carlyle A. Thayer is the Emeritus Professor of Politics, The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra.