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Vietnam and the Philippines have been beefing up their maritime defense capabilities to cope with China’s recent move to firmly secure its territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Vietnamese and Philippine news media have reported that the Vietnamese Navy has deployed two Russian-made patrol corvettes armed with missiles with a firing range of 130 KM and a cuttingedge radar system amid the territorial disputes with China. The two naval vessels, produced by Vietnam based on technology transferred from Russia, are among the six planned to be deployed. Two others are scheduled to be set in position during the second quarter of 2016.
In addition, Vietnam also has been deploying six attack submarines it plans to import from Russia under a US$2 billion contract signed with Moscow in 2009. It received the 4th of the six submarines from Russia in May and expected the last delivery
in 2016. Hanoi has recently purchased Russianmade missiles that can be launched from the submarines targeting China’s coastal areas. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter met his Vietnamese counterpart Gen. Phung Quang Thanh in early June and pledged US$18 million to help Vietnam buy American-made coast guard patrol boats to improve its maritime defense capabilities.
Meanwhile, the Philippines is seeking Japan’s support with P-3C patrol planes and their attached radar systems for the country. Philippine President Benigno Aquino paid an official visit to Japan early June for summit talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which was widely seen as part of Aquino’s efforts to obtain the Japanese support.
Following Aquino’s talks with Abe, the two countries staged their joint naval exercises which continued from June 22 to 26 in the West Philippine Sea, or South China Sea. The joint military drills, as they were staged also after Aquino and Abe during their early-June talks agreed to start discussions on a visiting forces agreement (VFA), a move seen as an effort to counter China’s aggressiveness, have drawn attention from their neighbouring nations including China. The drills will be the third joint military exercise between the Philippines and Japan in the last two years.
Meanwhile, Manila is also pushing to importadvanced surveillance equipment and devices produced by U.S. defense firm Raytheon Co. to bolster its coast guard capabilities