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Sources: US Defence Companies Are In Talks To Sell Vietnam Military Equipment

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Two sources told Reuters that US defence firms have discussed supplying Vietnam with military equipment, including helicopters and drones, in talks with top government officials. This suggests the country may reduce its reliance on Russian arms.

Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Textron, and IM Systems Group met with the officials last week at the country’s first large arms fair. The meetings were set up by the US-ASEAN Business Council, an industry group.

A person who was at the talks about weapons said that the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of National Defense were there.

The first talks may not lead to any deals, as Vietnam is looking for new suppliers and the Ukraine conflict is putting a strain on Russia, which has been Vietnam’s main military partner for many years. Russia has also been hit with strict sanctions because of the war, which Moscow calls a “special operation.”

Nguyen The Phuong, a military expert and researcher at the University of New South Wales, said, “This is the start of the Vietnam People’s Army being more open to US weapons and more willing to work with the US on defence as a whole.”

Analysts say that military deals with the US could run into many problems, such as the possibility that Washington will block arms sales because of human rights, worries about how it will affect Hanoi’s tense relationship with China, high costs, and the question of whether US-made systems can be integrated with Vietnam’s old weapons.

The person who went to the meetings said that the companies offered a wide range of military equipment and had “promising” talks about non-lethal equipment like drones, radars, and other systems to keep an eye on the air, the sea, and space.

When asked for comments, Vietnam’s defence and foreign ministries did not reply.

A second person who knows about the situation said that discussions about drones and helicopters started before the arms fair and have included more weapons.

Lockheed Martin, which displayed fighter and military transport planes at the event, declined to comment.

Questions were sent to Vietnam’s defence ministry by a Boeing representative. When asked for comments, Raytheon, Textron, and IM Systems Group did not answer.

Nearly 50 years after the end of the Vietnam War, the talks show that the US is making more and more efforts to gain influence with Hanoi. Since an arms embargo was lifted in 2016, the US has only sent coastguard ships and trainer planes to Vietnam, while Russia has given the country about 80% of its weapons.

The arms fair attracted dozens of defence companies from 30 countries, all hoping to get a share of the estimated $2 billion Vietnam spends annually in arms imports amid on-off tensions with its neighbour China.

Both sources, who did not want to be named because the talks were private, said that Lockheed Martin had separate talks with Vietnam about a new communication and defence satellite that could replace one of the two satellites Hanoi already uses from a US company.

The US embassy in Hanoi didn’t want to say anything, but Ambassador Marc Knapper said the US was ready to talk to Vietnam about any military equipment it might want to buy.

The US military has already sent two small naval cutters and two T-6 Texan trainer planes. By 2027, another 10 of these planes will be sent. It has also pledged Boeing ScanEagle reconnaissance drones, which have not yet been delivered.

Analysts and sources say that Vietnam is also thinking about making deals with suppliers in Israel, India, Europe, and Northeast Asia. In the last ten years, Israel has been the second-biggest seller of weapons to Vietnam, after Russia.

Info source – Alarabiya

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