Our Bureau
12:40 PM, June 6, 2015

Vietnam is in talks with European and US aircraft manufacturers to buy fighter jets, maritime patrol planes and reconnaissance drones, agencies reported Friday.

As part of its military modernization, Vietnam has three Russian-built Kilo-attack submarines and has three more on order as part of a $2.6 billion deal agreed in 2009.

Swedish company Saab, European consortium Eurofighter, the Airbus Group and US firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing are believed to be wooing Vietnam which has entered US's good books thanks to the China threat. 

Defense contractors had made multiple visits to Vietnam in recent months although no deals were imminent, the officials added.

One Western defense contractor said Hanoi wanted to modernize its air force by replacing more than 100 ageing Russian MiG-21 fighters while reducing its reliance on Moscow for weapons for its roughly 480,000-strong military.

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."We had indications they want to reduce their dependence on Russia. Their growing friendship with America and Europe will help them to do that," said the defense contractor.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, during a visit to Vietnam on Sunday, pledged $18 million to help Hanoi buy U.S. patrol boats.

Washington has set to ease an imposed ban on the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam in October.

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