Vietnam May Request F-16s, P-3 Orions From US


, Defense News11:20 a.m. EDT May 25, 2016

TAIPEI, Taiwan — With the lifting of the US arms embargo to Vietnam, a US defense industry source indicates Hanoi is seeking to improve its air defense and maritime security capabilities with the procurement of F-16 fighter aircraft from the US Pentagon’s excess defense articles (EDA) program and refurbished P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, armed with torpedoes.

The source also said Vietnam could seek US-made UAVs for maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

Torpedoes were banned under the embargo, but now the Vietnamese want the same P-3 program the US sold to Taiwan, the source said. On the F-16 EDA, they want the same deal the Obama administration gave Indonesia.

Defense News has also acquired an unclassified defense industry briefing prepared by the US Pacific Command. According to the report, “Socialist Republic of Vietnam — Country Security Cooperation Plan,” the US Embassy in Hanoi “possesses a robust security cooperating program operating in accordance with US policy goals and interests to promote integration and access focused on key areas within the Vietnamese security architecture.”

Defense News has acquired an unclassified defense industryDefense News has acquired an unclassified defense industry briefing prepared by the US Pacific Command. According to the report, the US Embassy in Hanoi “possesses a robust security cooperating program operating in accordance with US policy goals and interests to promote integration and access focused on key areas within the Vietnamese security architecture.” (Photo: US Pacific Command)

These include achieving air and maritime domain awareness, providing maritime security against traditional and nontraditional security threats, delivering all-hazards response and support to civil authorities, participating in regional contingency response and international peacekeeping operations, and addressing the impact of Vietnam War legacy issues on civil society.

“The SCO [Security Cooperation Organization] is manned and capable of providing in-country support and coordination for programs to expand US defense article procurement … and assist Vietnam in developing and sustaining professional armed forces,” the report said.

According to the report, Vietnam’s strategic outlook involves the survival of the Communist Party by maintaining sovereignty and independence, achieving freedom of maneuver, and ensuring sovereignty over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and unfettered access to natural resources and the global economic market.

China has been testing Vietnam’s EEZ claims with incursions by maritime patrol vessels, aggressive commercial fishing vessels and the stationing of an oil drilling test platform in 2014, dubbed the Haiyang Shiyou 981 standoff.

Vietnam’s goals, according to the report, are to enhance its presence in the South China Sea with upgrades for submarine warfare, maritime air-ground interdiction, anti-surface warfare (ASUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), maritime domain awareness (MDA), early warning, and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR).

In the past, Vietnam has procured defense articles from sources within the former Soviet Union and former East Bloc nations, but it has “begun reaching out to the European Union, Israel, and others.”

On radar issues, the Vietnamese are procuring a high-frequency surface wave radar from the US for $30 million, according to the report. This is part of their overall effort to improve early warning and ISR.

The report breaks down each service requirement.

For the Army, it must transition from a territorial defense structure, retain a central role as defender of national sovereignty and improve capacity to respond to natural disasters.

The Air Force must improve early warning and airborne ISR, enhance maritime interdiction, develop anti-access/area-denial capabilities, and revamp pilot training.

The Navy must improve MDA, electronic countermeasures/electronic counter-countermeasures, electronic intelligence, expand maritime law enforcement capabilities, develop a naval aviation arm, and enhance ASW and ASUW.

The US Embassy’s primary cooperation vision is to promote the United States as a “reliable partner to address complex, forward looking security issues.” It also hopes to establish military relationships outside the traditional theater support command that include defense sales, cross-servicing, voyage repairs, and science and technology cooperation.

The report said that priorities include the “establishment” of sustainable lines of effort (LOE) and “synchronize” operations, actions and activities (OAA); instill a programmatic, regularized approach to security cooperation; and focus on nontraditional security approaches and humanitarian activities.

According to Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy, big-ticket sales may be a long way off: “Vietnam does not have the defense budget for that. It is fully committed to integrating six advanced Kilo-class submarines into its fleet,” and all maintenance, repair and logistics network and workforce are geared to work with Soviet/Russian technology.

Another hurdle for Vietnam is that Hanoi will continue to face the same restrictions that all other countries face when trying to procure US arms, Thayer said, including human rights issues and the authoritarian nature of the government in power.



It is Plausible if Vietnam is provided with the same package given to Indonesia that they will acquire F-16s.

From what I read it seems the Taiwanese P-3 are not allowed to be armed.

Sept 2/14: P-3Cs. Weapons for Taiwan’s P-3Cs become an issue:

“The Chinese-language China Times yesterday cited a recent report by the Control Yuan’s National Audit Office as saying that…. 12 P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft from the US cost US$1.96 billion and are under the operational command of the Air Force 439 Composite Wing unit…. [but] the US disagreed with a plan to have the aircraft carry ordinances, such as mines and depth charges, made by Taiwanese manufacturers.”

Indonesia Upgrade of F-16C/D Block 25 Aircraft EDA package: HERE

See details of F-16C/D: HERE

F-16 C Block 25 or 52 IDIndonesian F-16C

P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft

The US Navy has operated the land-based P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft for anti-submarine warfare and anti-shipping, as well as for overland surveillance, reconnaissance, mine-laying, drug interdiction logistic, threat simulation crew training and search and rescue missions.

P-3CK cockpit

Although developed to counter the Soviet submarine threat, the maritime patrol force, greatly reduced in size since the end of the Cold War, finds itself in great demand in the littoral warfare environment of the early 21st century. The current front-line version is the P-3C which equips 12 active and seven reserve patrol squadrons the P-3C entered service in Baseline form in 1969 and has been upgraded since through various update configurations. Modifications to their equipment has sharpened their capabilities. The Lockheed P-3 Orion is currently in service with 15 countries.

RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft

The P-3C has a sophisticated sensor suite including the UYYS-1 acoustic sonobuoy processor and ALR-66 electronic surveilance system, plus magnethic anomaly detection gear, and infre-red detection system and a search radar. Some aircraft are equipped with the APS-137 imaging synthetic aperture radar which can display an image of its target.

Sonobuoy on a p 3c Orion

The Anti-Surface Improvement Program (AIP) is planned for 146 P-3Cs and includes enhancements in command, control, communications and intelligence, over the horizon targeting and survivability. New weapons such as Maverick, SLAM and SLAM-ER give the P-3 as potent stand-off land attack capability.

AGM-84 Harpoon SSM was loaded on a P-3C Orion patrol aircraft of Patrol Squadron 5 (VP 5) @seaforces.org

P-3A/Bs serve in the maritime patrol role with Argentina, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Thailand while P-3Cs serve with Australia, Iran, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan, Pakistan and South Korea. Japan operates 110 Kawasaki-built P-3Js while Canada has 18 CP-140 Auroras fitted with different mission avionics to US Navy P-3Cs. 

Entered service 1969
Crew ?
Dimensions and weight
Length 35.61 m
Wing span 30.37 m
Height 10.27 m
Weight (empty) 27.9 t
Weight (maximum take off) 64.4 t
Engines and performance
Engines 4 x Allison T56-A-14 turboprops
Engine power 4 x 4 910 hp
Maximum speed 761 km/h
Service ceiling 8.6 km
Combat radius 2 494 km
Missiles AGM-84D Harpoon anti-ship missiles, AGM-84E cruise missiles
Bombs Mk 54/101 depth bombs, Mk 82/83 series free-fall bombs, Mk 36/38/40 destructors
Torpedoes Mk 46/50 Barracuda torpedoes
Mines Mk 52/55/56 mines
Other 70-mm air-to-surface rockets


Vietnam People’s Air Force 

Current inventory (They must have retired all the MiG-21)

Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service
Mil Mi-24 Russia Helicopter Attack   25
Sukhoi Su-22 Soviet Union Jet Fighter-bomber   36
PZL M28 Poland Propeller maritime patrol   1
Sukhoi Su-27 Russia Jet Multirole   11
Sukhoi Su-30MK2 Russia Jet Multirole   36 
Aero L-39 Czech Republic Jet Trainer   26
Antonov An-26 Ukraine Jet Transport   30
CASA C-295 Spain Propeller Transport   3
Kamov Ka-32 Russia Helicopter Utility   2
Mil Mi-8/17 Russia Helicopter Utility   87
Bell UH-1H Iroquois United States Helicopter Utility   26



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