The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is expected to request from the US government the sale of Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), a senior company official told IHS Jane's on 10 April.
Speaking at the LAAD Defence and Security 2013 exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, Clay Fearnow, director maritime patrol programmes, said the Vietnamese Navy was keen to buy up to six surplus P-3s to help patrol the country's nearly 3,500 km coastline and 1,396,299 km2 Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
"The Vietnamese Navy has expressed a lot of interest [in the P-3], and there is [US government] support to move forward," said Fearnow.
According to Fearnow, any P-3s sold to Vietnam by the US would in the first instance be non-weaponised, being fitted exclusively with an MPA mission kit such as forward looking infrared (FLIR) sensors and other systems. However, he noted that as relations between the two countries continue to improve there could be scope for weapon systems to be provided at a later date.
Fearnow said Lockheed Martin would recommend they opt for the latter P-3C aircraft, as they are the most advanced and have the fewer airframe hours on them.