December 15, 2011: After receiving the second of two Russian Gepard (Panther) class frigates earlier this year Vietnam has ordered two more. The second two will be optimized for anti-submarine warfare with more submarine detection equipment. These 2,100 ton Russian warships were designed for export sales, although the first one is in Russian service as flagship of the Caspian Sea flotilla. When Vietnam bought the first ones five years ago it announced that it would decide, based on performance of the ships, whether to buy two more to be built in Vietnam. The first two Vietnamese Gepards cost about $200 million each.
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 (for anti-submarine operations), 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.)
Vietnam wants more of these ships, as well a dozens of Russian made missile patrol boats, to protect itself from Chinese claims to Vietnamese coastal waters.