In the last few week there were news over on many sites that Vietnam would be interested in some refurbished P3 Orions - albeit in a MPA configuration from the US. LAAD Defence and Security 2013: US mulls P-3 MPA sale to Vietnam
Most of the discussion resolves around the "love triangle" VN-USA-PRC. Naturally the embittered US vet does not miss the discussion and throws in his rant + the ex-Saigon Regime official/Human rights activist (residing in Orange County/California) also throws in his babbling.
In my eye those discussion miss the most crucial point: the actual needs & options of the VPAF/VPN.
The VPAF operates the largest Antonov-26 fleet. Those planes were delivered by the SU in the 70s/80s. By the end of this decade they need to be replaced.
The VPAF has stated in the last few years they are very interested in buying AEW&C-planes.
Problem: Russia is curently occupied with refurbishing its' A-50 AEW&C fleet and has put resources in developing the A-100.
India got its' hands full with the new inducted systems and has no spare capacity for coop. Honestly the Vietnamese are not impressed with Indian Stretchable Time
in the other programs. (Remember the Indian offer for ToT of the Prithvi SRBM or the BrahMos ASM - Vietnam is still hanging on its' SCUD and also had to buy Yakhnont.)
Sweden won't be able to get the EriEye system pass the HumanRights lobbyists. (Thailand ordered their EriEyes before things got really sour & also bought the Gripen.)
The VPN operates only some Ka-27 in the ASW role and currently doesn't have any MPA or ASW planes. Those Beriev-12 delivered in the 80s are out of service & talks with Ukrainians about refurbishment are not getting anywhere.
Problem: Russia hasn't got a priority to deploy a new MPA/ASW plane.
Japan is never going to get US approval for export of the Kawasaki P1. Also it is too expensive for VN.
The Marine Police (aka Coast Guard) is operating only 3 CASA C-212 with Swedish surveillance equipment. But that's just civilian LEO.
The most realistic option for Vietnam is to go with the EADS/CASA C-295.
The production of the cargo variant is up & running. It's very likely that Indonesia is getting the production license. That would eliminated threat of suspensions of spare part delivery in case of the HumanRights lobby getting a field day in the EU.
The MPA version is already in service with several countries.
The ASW version is under trial & soon will be available.
The AEW&C suite for the C-295 AEW&C version comes from IAI/Elta. Vietnam has got a working relationship with Isreal.
I mean, check out the Vietnamese naval infantry. They got the whole Isreali package. Isreal even sells amoured cars to the Vietnamse riot police. The very riot police, which is responsible for crackdowns on demonstrators. Rumors is that the VPAF Su-30s are flying with Isreali ECM/ECCM suites.
Operating the C-295 would give VN a very streamlined advantage.
IMHO the talk about VN buying P3 Orions reminds me about the talk about VN wanting to buy F16 a few years ago. Even Sen McCain made the comment that VN needs more "freeeeedooooom1!1!!1" before the US would sell Falcons to VN.
Shortly after that VN ordered 28 Su-30MK2Vs.
They pulled the same stunt already in the 90s regarding the French Mirage 2000-5 and the subsequent procurement of the Su-27SK/UBK.
The Viets might have a tight options, but that doesn't mean you can squeeze them during negotiations. Russia knows that.
With recession in Western countries some contractors will put alot pressure on their governments to open up the Vietnamese market - currently an exclusive Russian/EEuropean/Isreali market.
I expect a fairly large order for C-295 Cargo/MPA/ASW/AEW&C by Vietnam in next 2 years. Maybe VN ends up with operating the largest C-295 fleet.
Anyone here wants to bet?