26 April 2016
Vietnam apparently acquired some Soviet ASU-85 airborne SPATGs after the 1979 war with China, which recently have been brought out of storage. (photo: Via Bao Dat Viet)
Officials from the Minotor-Service Corporation of Belarus attending the Defense Services Asia (DSA) 2016 exhibition told IHS Jane's that Vietnamese officials had expressed "strong interest" in purchasing Minotor's upgrade package for their ASU-85 airborne self-propelled anti-tank guns (SPATGs).
Minotor's upgrade package includes a new more powerful diesel engine powerpack that would increase speed from 45 to 60 km/h and range from 400 km to 450 km.
The revelation that Vietnam People's Army (VPA) had the ASU-85 in its inventory was made in the 16 March 2015 issue of the Bao Dat Viet website, showing vehicles operating in a May 2015 exercise. An informed source has told IHS Jane's that these were delivered following China's brief war with Vietnam in 1979.
The 15.5 ton ASU-85, based on the chassis of the PT-76 amphibious tank, started arming Soviet Airborne Troops in 1959. It carries 45 rounds for its fixed D-70 85 mm main gun which has a maximum range of 10 km.
The ASU-85 was transported by the large Mi-6 "Hook" helicopter that the Vietnam People's Air Force also operated until the early 1990s.
The Soviet ASU-85s were part of larger shipments of T-62/55/54 tanks, BMP-1 armored personnel carriers and artillery that allowed the VPA to convert its 304th, 308th and 320th Infantry Divisions into Mechanised Infantry Divisions, or Motorised Rifle Divisions in Soviet terminology.
It is possible that the ASU-85s were kept in storage, which would appear to be confirmed by their being in good condition. Other Vietnamese reports indicate they were brought out of storage to provide a new capability for difficult terrain.