|Vietnam has discreetly fortified several of its islands in the disputed South China Sea with new mobile rocket launchers capable of striking China's runways and military installations.|
Intelligence shows Hanoi has shipped the launchers from the Vietnamese mainland into position on five bases in the Spratly islands in recent months, a move almost certain to raise tensions with Beijing.
|Deputy defence minister, Senior Lieutenant-General Nguyen Chi Vinh, said in June that Hanoi had no such launchers or weapons ready in the Spratlys but reserved the right to take any such measures.|
"It is within our legitimate right to self-defence to move any of our weapons to any area at any time within our sovereign territory," he said. Military analysts say it is the most significant defensive move Vietnam has made on its holdings in the South China Sea in decades. China's installations on Subi, Fiery Cross and Mischief Reef are now within range of many of Vietnam's tightly clustered holdings on 21 islands and reefs.