Vietnam is currently engaged in a long delayed military modernization program. For obvious reasons, part of the modernization has been centered on the Navy which aims to bring substantial combat capability online in the shortest time frame.
Available space snapshots from March 2015 show the expansion of an aircraft ramp located on the southeast side of Cam Ranh International airport. Construction on the ramp has been ongoing since late 2013.
Additional imagery from July, unavailable for publication at this time, has shown at least two Ka-28 ASW helicopters parked in front of the hangars. It’s possible these may be the two observed in Vietnam’s colors last November in the Crimea.
If imagery is any indicator, Vietnam could be making room for more.
Given the vessels on order for the Navy, it’s likely the apron represents the land-based component supporting Vietnam’s ship-based helos. Most notably, the helos deployed on the Russian-built Gepard class frigates and other coastal patrol vessels.
Two Gepards, the King Dinh Tien Hoang (924-979) and King Ly Thai To (974-1028), were delivered in 2011. Both are currently home ported nearby at the Cam Rahn Bay naval base, not far from Vietnam’s four Kilo submarines.
Russia’s Zelenodolsk Shipyard in Tatarstan has been contracted to build four more of the Gepard class for the southeast Asian nation. The second frigate batch, reportedly optimized for the ASW mission, is scheduled for delivery in 2017. A third batch was also reported last February.
Two helos are thought to support each assigned vessel.