China’s Type 052D guided-missile destroyers have the capability to intercept and shoot down the the People’s Air Force of Vietnam’s Su-22 fighter bombers should a future conflict between two nations over the disputed South China Sea take place, according to the Beijing-based Sina Military Network on Apr. 20.
The former Soviet Union provided 180 MiG-21bis fighters, 40 Su-22M3 ground attackers and six Su-22U trainers to the People’s Air Force of Vietnam in late 1979 to replace its obsolete A-37 attackers and F-5E fighters captured from the South Vietnamese Air Force at the end of the Vietnam War. Later, Vietnam received an additional 32 Su-22M4 ground attackers and four Su-22UM3 trainers in 1988. They were once considered the most dangerous threat to Chinese ground forces in the border region between the two countries.
During the Johnson South Reef Skirmish in the South China Sea in 1988, the Su-22M3 and Su-22M4 were not deployed against the vessels of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, though Chinese sailors were warned about the aircraft. Flightglobal, an online news and information website related to the aviation and aerospace industries, said Vietnam currently has 38 various types of Su-22 in services. More than 50 of them are in storage.
With an attacking range of 500 kilometers, Vietnam’s Su-22s are capable of operating over the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands. Vietnam introduced a total number of 24 advanced Su-30MK2V fighter bombers from Russia to replace the obsolete Su-22 in recent years. Yet this number is not enough for Vietnam to decommission all of its Su-22s. In a future confrontation between China and Vietnam over the South China Sea, the Su-22 attackers are unlikely to survive an attack from the PLA’s modern destroyers, the report said.