india vietnam deepen defence ties as delhi seeks to boost maritime presence in indo pacific - India, Vietnam deepen defence ties as Delhi seeks to boost maritime presence in Indo-Pacific

NEW DELHI – India handed over 12 high-speed patrol boats to Vietnam on Thursday (June 9), a day after inking a mutual logistics agreement allowing the use of each others’ military bases in a significant expansion of defence and security ties – all with an eye on China.

The two countries also signed a vision statement on defence ties till 2030.

The agreements come as India steps up its maritime presence in the Indo-Pacific and increases defence linkages with South-east Asia.

The patrol boats were built under a US$100 million (S$137.6 million) defence line of credit that India extended to Vietnam in 2014.

Five boats were manufactured in India and seven at Hong Ha Shipyard in Vietnam.

At the handover ceremony on Thursday, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said: “I’m confident that this will be a precursor to many more cooperative defence projects between India and Vietnam.”

On Wednesday, the two countries signed a mutual logistical agreement – a first for Vietnam – that allows their militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.

The Indian Defence Ministry in a press release called the agreement a “major step towards simplifying procedures for mutually beneficial logistic support”.

Mr Singh and his Vietnamese counterpart General Phan Van Giang also signed a Joint Vision Statement On India-Vietnam Defence Partnership Towards 2030, which India’s Defence Ministry said “will significantly enhance the scope and scale of existing defence cooperation”.

India in 2016 extended Vietnam a separate US$500 million line of credit to source or jointly manufacture defence weapons with India.

Vietnam is reportedly also looking to purchase India-made BrahMos medium-range supersonic cruise missiles.

India earlier this year sold the Philippines these missiles, which were jointly developed by India and Russia.

India and Vietnam have a deepening defence relationship, fuelled by common fears over the rising assertiveness of China.