NEW DELHI: India on Friday denied selling BrahMos cruise missiles to Vietnam, after a report said the missiles have been delivered to the Southeast Asian nation which has tense relations with China.
The development comes as tension between India and China continues along the border, with a standoff in Sikkim sector since June, and a fresh scuffle taking place in Ladakh sector.
Defence Ministry sources in New Delhi denied any sale of the BrahMos missiles, jointly developed by India and Russia.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Vietnam has also clarified that there has been no sale of BrahMos missiles.
On Friday, a report in Vietnam Express said the missiles have been delivered. However, later the report was altered.
"I am sure all of you must have already received that clarification from Vietnam on the same matter. The statement was purportedly made by their spokesperson. Following that, there was a press release put out by the foreign ministry. They had clarified that their spokesperson did not confirm the sale of BrahMos but referred to defence and strategic cooperation between the two countries," the MEA spokesperson said.
As per the official website of Vietnam's Foreign Ministry, in response to a question on whether BrahMos missiles have been delivered, their spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang had said the Vietnam-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership has been actively developing in many fields, economics, trade, investment, culture, education, security and defence.
She said the "bilateral security and defence ties have been making practical contribution to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world at large."
"It should be emphasized that Vietnam persistently pursues a national defence policy of peace and of self-defence. Procurement of defence equipment by Vietnam is consistent with the policy of peace and self-defence and is the normal practice in the national defence... We will forward your question to the relevant agency."
India and Russia last year agreed in principal to export the jointly developed cruise missile. According to sources, a number of countries have expressed interest in buying the missile, but no deal has been inked yet.
Sources have earlier said talks were in advanced stage with UAE, Chile, South Africa, and Vietnam. Former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had also said that India is keen on exporting the BrahMos missile.
The BrahMos is a short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land.
BrahMos Block-III is a joint Russian-Indian project, which is based on Russian P-800 Oniks missile. Block III had advanced guidance and upgraded software, incorporating high manoeuvres at multiple points and steep dive from high altitude.
It is jointly developed by India's DRDO and Russia's NPOM.
The land attack version of the missile has been operationalised in the Indian Army since 2007. The missile had a range of 290 km initially, which was increased to 450 km this year after India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
The fire-and-forget BrahMos has the capability to take on surface-based targets by flying a combined hi-lo trajectory, thus evading enemy air defence systems.
Inclusion of the powerful weapon system in the Indian Army has given it a distinct operational advantage to knock down any enemy target even in the most difficult and hidden terrains.
The missile has a Mach 2.8 speed.