In April 2023, the Vietnamese military participated in a training exercise where they deployed four Soviet-made 9K72 Elbrus (also known as Scud) short-range ballistic missile systems. This information was recently released in a video by the Vietnamese armed forces, according to the Army Recognition portal. It is not reported whether any real missile launches were conducted. However, during a defense exhibition in December 2022, Vietnam presented an upgraded launcher for the Elbrus, demonstrating that these missile systems received from the Soviet Union in 1981 are still operational and ready for use.
Western analysts believe that Vietnam, as the owner of the Elbrus missile system, has the most powerful missile arsenal in all of Southeast Asia, necessary for deterring China. This explains the mystery surrounding these Vietnamese missile systems: The Military Balance 2022 only mentions their existence, while other sources indicate a range from several units to 24 launchers obtained from the Kremlin in the early 1980s.
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Another interesting point is that Western sources claim that Vietnam loads North Korean Hwasong-6 missiles onto its Elbrus launchers. These missiles were acquired in the 1990s in quantities of up to 100 units, but it cannot be ruled out that deliveries occurred after that time.
The Hwasong-6 tactical ballistic missile can be described more as a modification of the Soviet 8K14 missile, as there are significant differences between these two ‘products’. The first difference is that, unlike the original 8K14, the weight of the warhead on the North Korean Hwasong-6 has been reduced to 770 kg, while the fuel mass has been increased by 25%, which, in turn, has increased the firing range to 600 km. The second difference is that, unlike the original 8K14, which had a body length of 11.6 meters, the Hwasong-6's length is 12 meters long. Despite the difference of 0.4 meters, the North Korean missile fits the Elbrus launcher perfectly.
The above demonstrates at least two specific points. First, it turns out that the Soviet 9K72 Elbrus missile system can even be loaded with North Korean missiles. Second, Vietnam has a powerful missile arsenal capable of deterring China, so the country keeps its missile systems' specifics secret.
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