Vietnam seen courting Western arms deals

Discussion in 'Indo Pacific & East Asia' started by LETHALFORCE, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    UPDATE 1-Vietnam seen courting Western arms deals | Reuters

    SINGAPORE/LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Vietnam is opening up to Western defence firms as tensions in the South China Sea trigger subdued yet growing warnings of a regional arms race, defence executives and security analysts said on Friday.

    The Communist-ruled country is one of several Southeast Asian nations seeking to expand surveillance and maritime patrol capabilities, sparking fierce competition for regional deals estimated to be worth up to several hundred million dollars.

    "Vietnam is opening to Western suppliers, which was not the case two or three years ago," said Marie-Laure Bourgeois, vice-president for South and Southeast Asia at France's Thales , Europe's largest defence electronics supplier.

    "There has been a revival of tensions recently in the South China Sea and this is increasing demand for surveillance systems. Countries in the region want to ensure they have enough awareness of what is happening at sea and in the air."

    Vietnam is locked in a complex set of territorial disputes with China and four other parties - Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan - over waters giving access to untapped oil and gas reserves and valuable fishing grounds.

    China's claims, the broadest, cover all of the Spratly and Paracel islands and most of the South China Sea.

    Concern over an accidental confrontation or even hostilities spiked in May when Vietnam and China exchanged fresh accusations of sovereignty violations. The issue has come off the boil but the region is bustling with deals from sonars to submarines.

    "(Southeast Asian) states are boosting their military capabilities because they can afford to and as part of a hedging strategy both against China and each other," said Nigel Inkster, former deputy chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6.

    "Though Southeast Asians don't like to hear it, there is an arms race going on in the region," said Inkster, now head of trans-national threats and political risk at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies.

    PURCHASING TALKS

    Half the globe's oil tanker traffic passes through the disputed area, underpinning demand for surveillance systems expected to be on display at next week's Singapore Air Show.

    Vietnam has traditionally bought Russian hardware including a recent purchase of six Kilo-class submarines but is emerging as a market for other suppliers "as insurance against China", said James Hardy, Asia-Pacific Editor for Jane's Defence Weekly.

    Israel is seen as front-runner to win the Vietnam contract Thales was bidding for, but other possible deals lie ahead.

    "There are discussions with the Vietnam authorities which are no longer just buying Russian equipment. We have participated in discussions on radar and are still in some discussions," Bourgeois said on the eve of the Feb. 14-19 air show.

    Israel and Vietnam have stepped up bilateral contacts of late, but any defence deals are months away, a source at Israel Aerospace Industries told Reuters, when asked about the comments.

    On Thursday, the Israeli company announced a $150 million contract to supply radar to an unidentified Asian country.

    Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said in Hanoi last week Vietnam needed to improve its human rights record before moving ahead with closer military ties.

    "Growing tensions coupled with the wealth of Southeast Asia make it a very attractive market for defence companies, especially where the U.S. precludes itself," said defence consultant Alexandra Ashbourne-Walmsley.

    In late December, China's Vice President Xi Jinping, widely expected to take over as top leader from late 2012, called for better relations with Vietnam, saying the two countries should properly handle their differences and do more to build trust.

    Still, Western diplomats and defence executives said ahead of the air show that uncertainty and overlapping disputes had pushed up defence budgets and buying interest across the region.

    The lessons of Iran's threat to close the Hormuz Strait are also not lost on a region hosting similar trade choke points.

    "Vietnam would like to improve its links with the USA and other Western powers and is investing a lot in the development of some high-quality diplomatic resources," Inkster said.

    "Whether the situation in Southeast Asia amounts to a new Cold War is not clear; but there are plenty of tensions which could boil over."
     
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  3. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    I doubt Israel won the radar contract. Thales just finished a billion dollar contract upgrading the traffic control for the whole Ho Chi Minh Flight Region.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    It is an interesting development.

    It was a big mistake made my China to get aggressive in the South China Sea.

    The resultant consequence being the increase of troops and military matériel in the Philippines, US troops in North Australia, multi nation military exercise in Thailand, high speed modernisation in India, return of partial democracy in Myanmar, the rise of the BLA and so on!
     
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  5. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    It is a great development for France. We get to flood ASEAN with new weapons.
     
  6. Thai

    Thai Regular Member

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    Under the Vietnam eyes, both France and Israel are equal competitive in some criteria of weapon systems
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    French has a better chance owing to cultural ties, but then........
     
  8. pack leader

    pack leader Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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  9. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    We are talking about Vietnam. You think Ho Chi Minh is in India? :rofl:
     
  10. pack leader

    pack leader Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    i work for iai bedek division i know what i am taking about
     
  11. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    Then why did you just quote a thread to me about India when the discussion is a tender for Vietnam? Reading comprehension a problem for you?
     
  12. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Actually the Israeli deal was thought to be with India but it was later clarified that the Israeli Deal with the Asian Country was Vietnam.

    IAI signs $1.1b arms deal with Asian Country
     
  13. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    The last post by brahmos says (with India). It's fine with me if Israel isn't winning more orders in India, it just increases the French stake.
     

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