Jun 9, 2015

Vietnam eyes Western warplanes, patrol aircraft to counter China

Vietnam is in talks with European and U.S. contractors to buy fighter jets, maritime patrol planes and unarmed drones, as it looks to beef up its aerial defenses in the face of China's growing assertiveness in disputed waters.
The battle-hardened country has already taken possession of three Russian-built Kilo-attack submarines and has three more on order. Upgrading its air force would give Vietnam one of the most potent militaries in Southeast Asia.
The previously unreported aircraft discussions have involved Swedish defense contractor Saab, Eurofighter, and U.S. firms Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing,.
Vietnam has ordered about a dozen more Russian Sukhoi Su-30 front-line fighters to supplement a fleet of older Su-27s and Su-30s.
Vietnam had held talks over the Typhoon warplane made by Eurofighter as well as the F/A-50 light fighter jointly developed by Korea Aerospace Industries and Lockheed.
Lockheed had discussed its Sea Hercules, the maritime patrol version of its C-130 transport plane.
Boeing wanted to sell its maritime surveillance aircraft P-8 Poseidon.
Vietnam has already started moving slowly away from Russia in recent years, buying Canadian Twin Otter amphibious planes and Airbus C-212 maritime patrol aircraft for its coastguard and Airbus C-295 transport planes.
Airbus Defence had been in talks to offer maritime patrol and airborne early warning systems on the C-295.

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