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In China’s backyard, India to Train Vietnam Pilots Fly Sukhoi Jets

© AP Photo / Anupam NathIndian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft flies past during a parade at an airbase in Tezpur, India, Friday, Nov. 21 2014
Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft flies past during a parade at an airbase in Tezpur, India, Friday, Nov. 21 2014 - Sputnik International
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India’s main focus is to export naval vessels in order to make its presence felt beyond the Malacca Straits. But it is also trying to leverage the commonality of Russian equipment with Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

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New Delhi (Sputnik) India and Vietnam have finally inked an agreement to train Vietnamese pilots on Sukhoi fighter jets after nearly two years of discussions.

Sources told Sputnik that the agreement was signed at a meeting between India’s Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar and his visiting Vietnamese counterpart Gen Ngo Xuan Lich.  

Vietnam has 36 Russia-made Sukhoi-30 fighter jets in service while the Indian Air Force operates over 200 jets of similar make. This puts India in an ideal position to pass on the finer points of handling Sukhoi jets to countries that have also inducted it in their air force.

In September this year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a $ 500 million credit line for defense co-operation during his visit to Vietnam. However, it is not clear whether the training costs would be financed through this credit line. India has also agreed to help Vietnamese in the upkeep of the Su-30MK2 aircraft.

This is the second major training program between the two nations. Indian armed forces have already trained 550 Vietnamese submariners to operate Russian built Kilo-class submarines. 

During Modi’s visit to Vietnam in September this year, bilateral ties were upgraded to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

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