In a clear demonstration of growing defense cooperation, India has announced its decision to provide Vietnam with a Khukri-class guided-missile corvette, INS Kirpan, further bolstering the ties between the two nations that share concerns regarding China’s assertiveness in the region. The announcement was made after a meeting between Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and his Vietnamese counterpart, General Phan Van Gang, in New Delhi. The transfer of the Indian Missile Corvette INS Kirpan to the Vietnamese navy marks a significant milestone in strengthening the capabilities of the Vietnam People’s Navy, as stated by the Indian government. The missile corvette is a small warship primarily utilized for coastal defense. The move to provide Vietnam with this advanced naval asset underscores India’s commitment to enhancing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region.
During the meeting, the focus of the Vietnamese defense minister’s visit was on forging closer military ties with India. Discussions encompassed avenues to strengthen defense industrial capabilities through research collaboration and joint production, according to an official statement. While India and Vietnam have maintained a strategic partnership since 2016, the defense cooperation has gained momentum in recent times. Last year, both nations signed a groundbreaking military logistics pact, enabling their respective armed forces to utilize each other’s bases for repair, replenishment, and facilitating visits of warships, military aircraft, and personnel. Furthermore, India had previously extended a $100 million line of credit to Vietnam, resulting in the transfer of 12 high-speed guard boats in June.
The deepening defense ties between India and Vietnam serve the larger objective of fostering stability in the Indo-Pacific region. India, embroiled in a prolonged military standoff with China along the disputed Himalayan borders, remains concerned about Beijing’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean, including infrastructure projects in countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Similarly, Vietnam has expressed apprehension about Chinese warships and survey vessels encroaching upon its exclusive economic zone. China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, overlapping with Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations, have raised concerns in Hanoi. Recent incidents, such as China’s month-long presence of a survey ship in Vietnam’s waters, have intensified the need for Vietnam to enhance its defense capabilities.
INS Kirpan was a Khukri-class corvette. The Khukri-class corvette is a class of corvettes intended to replace the ageing Petya II-class corvettes of the Indian Navy. The INS Kirpan has a displacement of 1,423 short tons (1,291 t) at full load with a length of 91.1 meters (299 feet), a beam of 10.5 meters (34 feet), and a draught of 4 meters (13 feet). Powered by two SEMT Pielstick/Kirloskar 18 PA6V 280 diesel engines, the INS Kirpan boasts an impressive propulsion capability of 14,400 PS (10,600 kW), allowing it to reach speeds of up to 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph) with a range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph). The INS Kirpan is armed with four P-15 Termit (NATO: SS-N-2D Mod 1 Styx) missile launchers, providing it with a formidable anti-ship capability. Furthermore, it possesses a SA-N-5 Grail launcher for air defense missiles, a AK-176 76 mm 60-caliber main gun and two AK-630 30 mm guns.