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ST PETERSBURG, May 29 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia has launched the construction of the sixth diesel-electric submarine of Project 636 for Vietnam at the Admiraleiskiye Verfi shipyard in St Petersburg.
The 2-billion-dollar contract for the supply of six submarines to Vietnam was signed in 2009 with deliveries due to be completed in 2016, a Russian defence sector source told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
Multi-role diesel-electric submarines, designed by the St Petersburg-based Rubin design bureau, boast one of the lowest noise signatures in the world, with submerged speed at 20 knots and a diving depth of 240 meters.
Vietnam has already inducted two such submarines into service. The third will sail out to sea for training Vietnamese sailors in June. It is due to be shipped to the customer by the end of the year. The fourth submarine was launched in March with sea trials scheduled for June.
The fifth submarine is under construction.
Vietnam's defence spending is 1.5 billion dollars /1.8% of the Gross Domestic Product/ a year. The government does not rule out that it might increase if the national economy begins to grow at a faster rate. Russia is a long-standing Vietnamese partner in military cooperation. The two countries have signed more than 4.5 billion dollars worth of contracts for supply of newest Russian armaments to Vietnam in the recent years. Aside from submarines, Vietnam buys Russian Su-30MK2 fighters, frigates and missile boats.