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Surface Forces: Russian Panthers Head South
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January 1, 2010: Vietnam has bought two Russian Gepard (Panther) class frigates. These 2,000 ton warships were designed for export sales, although the first one is in Russian service, as flagship of the Caspian Sea flotilla. Moreover, when Vietnam receives its two Gepards, it will decide, based on performance of the ships, whether to buy two more (built in Vietnam). The first two Vietnamese Gepards will cost about $200 million each, and the first of these will enter service in 2010.

These ships are 102m (316 feet) long, have a crew of 98 and endurance of 15 days. Top speed is 50 kilometers an hour. These frigates are meant for coastal patrol. They carry eight 8 SS-N-25 anti-ship missiles, one, SA-N-4, twin rail anti-aircraft missile launcher (with 20 missiles). There is a 76mm cannon and two, six barrel, 30mm anti-missile autocannon, four 533mm torpedo tubes and a 12 barrel anti-submarine rocket launcher. The ship also carries up to 20 naval mines. Electronics include navigation and air defense radars, as well as sonar. There is an option to provide a helicopter platform (but no hangar.)

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