In June 2021, it was revealed that the US Air Force (USAF) agreed to supply Vietnam with the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II turboprop trainer/light-attack aircraft. The agreement represents Vietnam’s most high-profile defense procurement from the US since the latter lifted its military embargo on the Southeast Asian nation in 2016.
The aircraft will be deployed to improve the Vietnamese air force’s pilot training. Although it is unsure how many Beechcraft T-6 Texan II aircraft will be delivered to Vietnam, Janes.com, a leading defense publication, reported that the USAF issued a request for information in February 2021 in which it was seeking to establish a new contract to provide Vietnam with three trainer aircraft by no later than 2023, as well as a modern undergraduate pilot training program based on the USAF pilot training model.
The agreement is part of the strategic program of regional security cooperation and assistance between USAF and Vietnam. The US Department of State reports that from 2017 to 2021, Vietnam received approximately USD 60 million in bilateral State Department-funded security assistance under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program and more than USD 20 million under the Department’s Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative (SAMSI) regional FMF account.
FMF primarily supports Vietnam’s maritime security capacity-building efforts. Key projects for the Vietnam Coast Guard include the transfer, refurbishment, and sustained maintenance of two former US Coast Guard cutters under the Excess Defense Articles program and the purchase of MetalShark patrol boats.
SAMSI is designed to enhance maritime domain awareness, increase the presence of partner countries in their own territorial waters, and help them maintain the rights and freedoms specified under international law of the sea. In this context, Vietnam purchased Scan Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems using SAMSI funds.
(Sources: Janes.com; US Department of State)