Vietnam is in the process of acquiring 50 anti-ship and land attack 3M-14E Klub supersonic cruise missiles for its burgeoning fleet of SSK Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines, Der Spiegel Online reports.
According to the article, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) recently updated data on its website, based on information obtained from the United Nations’ register of conventional arms, indicating that Russia has already delivered 28 missiles over the last two years to Hanoi, although the precise number remains unknown.
The Klub is a Russian-made conventional supersonic cruise missile, “designed to destroy targets protected by sophisticated active air defenses and countermeasures,” deagel.com explains. It is an export variant of Russia’s “carrier killer” 3M-54 (NATO designation: SS-N-27A “Sizzler”) and capable of long-range precision strikes.
While it is unknown whether the anti-ship variant of the weapon sold to Vietnam is the 3M-54E Klub-S (range 220km) or 3M-54E1 (range 300km) – both of which can be launched from submarines – the land-attack variant is almost certainly the 3M-14E (range 300km), capable of carrying a 450kg warhead.
The purchase of land attack cruise missiles mark a “massive shift” beyond advancing the Vietnamese’s Navy’s anti-ship capabilities, according to naval analyst Carl Thayer quoted by Reuters. “They’ve given themselves a much more powerful deterrent that complicates China’s strategic calculations,” he added.