Vietnam has for the first time sent one of its naval vessels built by Russia to an international maritime and aerospace exhibition in Malaysia, the government said.
The Gepard-class frigate HQ-011 Dinh Tien Hoang, with 140 officers and crew members aboard, has left for the fair that is taking place between March 21-25 in Malaysia, the government said in a statement on its news website.
The exhibition, known as LIMA, is a biennial international maritime and aerospace exhibition which draws the participation of many top military powers and arms-producing companies around the world.
As part of the trip, the frigate will join a ship parade and a LIMA sea exercise in ship formation for photos taken, rescuing people in distress at sea, providing logistics at sea and other activities.
LIMA is one of the largest exhibitions of its kind in Asia-Pacific to support not only the defense but also civilian and commercial industries. The event was attended by 512 businesses from 36 countries in 2015 and is expected this year to welcome 550 companies, including top arms-producing companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus and Thales, making it the biggest ever since its debut in 1991.
In May 2006 Vietnam and Russia signed a $350 million contract for two Gepard-class frigates. The ships were delivered to the Vietnamese Navy in March 2011 and named after Vietnamese kings Dinh Tien Hoang and Ly Thai To.
The HQ-011 Dinh Tien Hoang is designed to perform search tasks, track and destroy floating target ships, air defense, escort, and patrol territorial waters and special areas with economic rights. The ship is equipped with stealth technology and may operate independently or in squadron.
In addition to these, Russia is completing building another two Gepard frigates ordered by Vietnam for delivery in the second half of 2017, said Renat Mistakhov, director of Zelenodolsk Shipyard, who is attending LIMA. His plant has built the first pair of frigates for Vietnam.
"Everything is going according to the plan," Mistakhov was quoted by Sputniknews as saying Tuesday at LIMA. "Vietnam seems to be satisfied and shows a lot of interest in these orders," he said.
Vietnam has recently placed orders with Russia for six Kilo-class submarines and Su-30MK2 naval fighter-bombers in its naval modernization drive.