According to Igor Vilnit, the general director of the Rubin design bureau, Vietnam will receive its first Project 636M / Kilo class diesel-electric submarine in 2013 as scheduled.
The submarine is currently undergoing sea trials. Russia and Vietnam had signed a $2 billion contract for the delivery of 6 Project 636M submarines. All 6 are to be delivered by 2016.
The Project 636M submarine is the latest export version of the Project 636 / Varshavyanka class submarine, which in turn is an improved version of the Project 877 class.
Compared to the Project 877 class, the Project 636 class is slightly larger and longer. It features several improvements, such as lower acoustic signature with noise reduction, 7-bladed skewed propeller and a new sonar.
In addition to laying mines and firing torpedoes from its six 533 mm topedo tubes, the Project 636M can fire the 3M-54 Klub missiles to engage targets on land, under water and on the surface.
The first country to purchase the Project 636M submarine was China, which ordered 8 submarines in a $1.6 billion contract. This raises the possibility that Project 636M submarines would face off against each other in a conflict between Vietnam and China.
Algeria is the only other user of the Project 636 class with 2 Project 636M units. Other prominent users of the older Project 877 class submarines are India and Iran.
Due to problems with the Project 677 / Lada class submarines, which was to replace the Project 636, Russia placed an interim order for 6 domestic versions of the Project 636 submarine.
The Russian versions of the Kilo class are thought to be superior to the export versions. All 6 Russian Project 636 submarines are scheduled to serve in the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy starting in 2014.