The United States and Vietnam are engaged in discussions about the potential sale of American-made F-16 fighter planes to Hanoi, according to Reuters. The negotiations, which are still in the early stages, have been a key topic of talks between officials from both countries over the past month in Washington, New York, and Hanoi.
The discussions come as the US accuses China of coercing and intimidating Vietnam and other neighboring countries in the South China Sea, where Beijing has territorial disputes. In response to these tensions, the US State Department recently approved the sale of F-16 spare parts and equipment to Taiwan, which is upgrading its fleet of warplanes. Taiwan has also ordered 66 new F-16V jets from the US, expected to arrive by 2026.
The US government is considering creative financing options to provide better support to Vietnam. A US official stated, “Part of what we’re working on internally as the US government is being creative about how we could try to provide better financing options to Vietnam to get them things that might be really useful to them.”
The relationship between the US and Vietnam has gradually normalized since the lifting of a 19-year embargo in 1994. President Joe Biden visited Hanoi earlier this month and described the two countries as critical partners. He emphasized the importance of their cooperation during a crucial time.
However, China has firmly opposed any foreign military aid to Taiwan, which it considers its sovereign territory. Beijing denies stoking tensions in the region and accuses the US of maintaining a “Cold War mentality.”
The potential sale of F-16 fighter planes to Vietnam is part of the broader competition for influence in the Indo-Pacific region between the US and China. The US aims to bolster its alliances and partnerships in the region in the face of China’s growing military capabilities and assertiveness.
The discussions between the US and Vietnam highlight the deepening security cooperation between the two countries. Vietnam has been modernizing its military in recent years, and the acquisition of F-16 fighter planes would enhance its airpower capabilities. The sale could also serve as a deterrent against potential Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
However, the negotiations are still at an early stage, and it remains to be seen whether a deal will be reached. The potential sale of F-16 fighter planes to Vietnam is a significant development in the ongoing strategic competition between the US and China. It underscores the increasing importance of the Indo-Pacific region in global geopolitics and the efforts of countries to strengthen their defense capabilities in response to emerging challenges.