Speaking at the opening ceremony of the expo, Vietnamese Defense Minister General Phan Van Giang expressed his hope that the event would be a gathering for senior defense leaders to meet and discuss issues related to security, defense and other aspects, contributing to enhancing mutual understanding for peace and stability in the region and the world. His hope came true and could be seen in three aspects, including the increasing international position and supports for Vietnam, the expanded opportunities for cooperation and development of defense industry; the reinforced trust of Vietnamese people on the capability of the Vietnam People’s Army.

Vietnamese Defense Minister General Phan Van Giang speaks at the opening ceremony of the Vietnam International Defense Expo 2022.

Attraction of Vietnam

The expo would have been held in 2020 if the COVID-19 pandemic had not suddenly broken out. Previously, the Vietnam side had planned to invite foreign guests, even to organize an impressive international fleet review in Vietnam for the first time. Therefore, when the pandemic was under control, the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense determined to organize the expo.

The attendance of over 170 enterprises from 30 countries in ASEAN, Asia, Europe, and America; defense and military officials, foreign diplomats, proved the attraction of the first-ever international defense expo in Vietnam.

International guests at the opening ceremony of the expo

In an overall scenario of the international defense expos held in the ASEAN region, Vietnam received a lot of attention and support from international counterparts. The Malaysian government has dedicated Langkawi, a large island in the Western sea of the country to hold the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA). Singapore, an island country with a small area, have held the International Maritime Defense Exhibition Asia (IMDEX Asia). These two events have been held in odd-numbered years for many years and have attracted the participation of the military and the defense industry of many countries.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of November 2022, Indonesia organized the Indo Defense 2022 Expo and Forum, an event with the participation of 905 companies, including 158 Indonesian enterprises and 747 companies from 59 countries and territories worldwide. The Vietnam International Defense Expo 2022, a smaller event that took place in the last month of the year, still witnessed the participation of a large number of delegations and businesses, proved the attraction of Vietnam.

Mr. James Heappey, Minister of State for the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, highly valued the expo, stressed that his country saw cooperation potential with Vietnam. He said that the UK considered the expo as the right time to offer cooperation opportunities to Vietnam.

U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper affirmed that the participation of U.S. enterprises reflected the bilateral cooperation, including the defense ties, between the two countries. He hoped that the cooperation would be strengthened through the expo.

The expo also marked India's strongest ever presence in Vietnam with the aim of promoting the defense cooperation and strengthening the bilateral ties. According to the Indian Embassy in Vietnam, India brought the best products in its defense industry to the expo and looked for prospects of exports in the near future.

Leverage for defense industry development

The expo proved to be a good chance for enterprises of all participating countries to search for cooperation opportunities. Information about the number of cooperation agreements signed right at the expo showed that this would be a lever for our country's defense industry. Several agreements such as the deal between the General Department of Defense Industry of Vietnam and the Damen Shipyards Group of the Netherlands; the deal to deploy a 5G network test in India and the contract to export high-tech equipment to this market signed between Vietnam’s Viettel High Tech and India’s United Telecoms Limited Group, were signed.

The above-mentioned agreements "bore fruit" from the exhibition, and more deeply from the national strategy for defense industry development. During the meeting to deploy Resolution No.08-NQ/TW issued January 26, 2022 by the 13th Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam on “Developing defense industry towards 2030 and the following years,” Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh stressed the need to develop a proactive, self-reliant, modern, and dual-purpose national defense industry, becoming a key sector of the national industry.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh visits the Vietnam International Defense Expo 2022.

Based on this policy, the organization of the expo was a highlight to help the Vietnam defense industry sector showcase its capability, contributing to better serving the need of weapons and equipment for the combat readiness and the Fatherland protection cause.

The development of defense industry is a right strategy of Vietnam. At the opening ceremony of LIMA 2017, Malaysian President Najib Razak at that time stated that by 2030, its defense industry sector would create 32,000 jobs with high income and a revenue of over USD 16 billion. His statement implied that Malaysia wanted to independently produce weapons and military equipment.

For Indonesia, the desire to have an autonomous defense industry has also been affirmed many times through policies of the island country’s government and the development of domestic defense companies.

The establishment of a new defense industry group called the Defend ID has reaffirmed the determination of the Indonesian government in developing an autonomous, strong, and modern defense industry.

In particular, the introduction of the Defend ID is expected to cut the country’s dependence on imported weapons and military equipment, as well as raw materials.

The group is tasked with developing equipment used in the production of “key technologies,” contributing to increasing the localization rate from 41 to 50 percent and gradually to 100 percent.

Looking around the world, it can be clearly seen that great powers are all self-sufficient countries in defense industry. They only allow the export of weapons and equipment that are "underwhelming" compared to other versions that they own. For our position and capability, the development of defense industry in accordance with Resolution No.08-NQ/TW is a target to reach soon.

Increase of love and trust

Each squadron of two and then four Su-30MK2s, together with squadrons of Mi-171 helicopters practicing in Hanoi sky in preparation for the Vietnam International Defense Expo 2022 drew attention of people and reporters at home and abroad. The images of the Vietnam People’s Army through martial art performances of commando troops or T-90S tanks on display at the expo contributed to promoting  the national pride and love and trust for the military.

A squadron of Su-30MK2s at the opening ceremony of the Vietnam International Defense Expo 2022

Thousands of people lined up under the drizzle to enter the expo and directly see the missiles or touch the tanks. It displayed the attention of Vietnamese people to the development of the Vietnam People’s Army. The success of the expo proved the sound policies of the Vietnamese Party and State in enhancing defense cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region and the world.

Translated by Trung Thanh