|The CSBV intends to equip all four DN 2000 OPVs with helicopters. Source: Damen|
"The acquisition of the helicopters will be part of Vietnam's effort to integrate aerial surveillance as a part of the coastguard's patrols," said Maj Nguyen. "This will significantly enhance our maritime operations."
The CSBV currently operates one Damen DN 2000 OPV with pennant number 8001. The 90 m vessel is powered by four Caterpillar C3516C engines and can attain a top speed of 21 kt. It has a range of 5,000 n miles and a flight deck that will support helicopters with an all-up weight of 14 tons.
The 8001 is the first of four helicopter-capable OPVs ordered from the state-owned Z189 shipyard built to Netherlands-based Damen Shipyard's design. The rest are currently in various stages of construction and all four vessels will be equipped with helicopters.
IHS Jane's understands that the Vietnam Ministry of National Defence has considered the Kamov Ka-27 and the Eurocopter AS565 Panther as possible contenders, but the CSBV indicated that it is still considering other possibilities as long as the aircraft fulfils the tonnage limits of its OPVs' flight deck.
The CSBV has declined to reveal neither the budget allocated for the acquisition programme nor the number of units that it intends to purchase. "Expect the acquisition process to start in the next two to three months," said Maj Nguyen.
Besides naval helicopters, the CSBV has also laid out plans to acquire an unknown number of CASA C-212 Aviocar aircraft and mobile ground command centres to manage the aircraft in maritime surveillance missions.