U.S. media discusses Vietnam's weapons 'wish list' if embargo is lifted

By Toan Dao   May 19, 2016 | 03:20 am PT
U.S. media discusses Vietnam's weapons 'wish list' if embargo is lifted
A South Korean Air Force (ROKAF) P-3 Orion takes off from RAAF Pearce air base March 26, 2014, to assist with the international search effort trying to locate missing Malaysia Airways Flight MH370. Photo by Reuters/Richard Wainwright
Vietnam may consider purchasing weapons and military equipment from the United States to defend its maritime sovereignty once the current U.S. ban on weapons sales is fully lifted, according to U.S. media.

Lifting the arms embargo would allow the U.S. to sell Vietnam more maritime surveillance technology, including aircraft like the submarine-spotting P-3 Orion, said Stars and Stripes, an American newspaper that reports on matters affecting members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The Chicago Tribune said in a report on May 18 that Vietnam has not provided the U.S. a specific wish list of weapons, but experts say the Southeast Asian nation could be looking for warships, missiles and radar, and surveillance and communications equipment. Examples include Lockheed's P-3 Orion and C-130 Hercules, or Boeing's P-8 Poseidon, the newspaper said.

In 2014, Obama eased restrictions on sales of maritime surveillance and security systems to Vietnam. The change has allowed the sale of U.S. patrol boats with mounted machine guns, search-and-rescue vessels and naval reconnaissance aircraft, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

In June last year, the U.S. pledged $18 million to help Vietnam buy American-made Metal Shark patrol boats.

U.S. officials say Vietnam is expected to use about $12 million in U.S. foreign military financing this year to purchase small patrol boats, communications equipment and English-language training, the Los Angeles Times said.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the State Department did not respond to questions about specific weapons but said each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Meanwhile, Capitol Hill staffers and experts said Vietnam has made no major weapons purchases since 2014.

“Even if there is a total lifting of the ban, the U.S. can always reject a sale,” the Stripes and Stars quoted Carl Thayer, regional security consultant and professor emeritus at the University of New South Wales in Australia, as saying.

“It does not mean Vietnam is walking into the coffee shop and getting whatever it wants,” Thayer said.

Obama will visit Vietnam from May 23-25.

go to top