HANOI, -- Vietnam's military has demonstrated its ability to deploy its Russian-made K-300P Bastion-P (SSC-5 'Stooge') coastal defence system in an exercise that was revealed by the Vietnam National Defence television channel (QPVN) on 10 August.
The broadcaster showed footage of two K-340P mobile Bastion-P launchers being shipped and offloaded from a small utility landing craft as part of the coastal deployment exercise for the anti-ship missile system.
The drill, which follows China's rejection of a 12 July ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that dismissed China's 'historic claim' to most of the South China Sea (SCS), seems to underscore Hanoi's concern about Beijing's growing assertiveness and military build-up in the disputed waters.
It also demonstrated Vietnam's ability to ship the Bastion-P to some of its larger islands in the disputed Spratlys.
Vietnam occupies about 24 islands and reefs in the Spratlys, including islands close to China's newly reclaimed bases on Subi Reef and Gaven Reef.
While the actual date of the drill was not revealed, analysts say that it likely took place after 12 July PCA ruling on the legality of Beijing's territorial claims in the SCS.
The exercise follows a 10 August news report, in which Reuters cited foreign officials and military analysts as saying Vietnam had deployed rocket launchers capable of firing the 306 mm EXTRA guided rocket to several SCS islands that are within striking distance of Chinese runways and military installations.
Made by Israel Military Industries (IMI), the EXTRA uses a GPS-aided INS-based guidance system to deliver its 120 kg warhead to a range of up to 150 km with an accuracy down to 10 m.
Diplomats and military officers told Reuters that intelligence shows Hanoi has shipped the launchers from the Vietnamese mainland into position on five bases in the Spratly islands in recent months.
K-340P mobile Bastion-P launchers.