US in Talks With Vietnam on Major Weapons Deal

The deal could include a fleet of F-16 fighter jets

The US and Vietnam are in talks on a major arms deal in what would be the largest-ever weapons transfer between the two nations, Reuters reported on Friday.

The report said the deal could include Vietnam buying a fleet of US-made F-16 fighter jets, but sources told Reuters the talks were still in the early stages, and everything is subject to change. The potential weapons sale was a topic of conversation between US and Vietnamese officials in meetings over the past month.

The US has been looking to boost ties with Vietnam and other countries in the region as part of its strategy against China. Hanoi has sought to balance relations between the two powers, a strategy known as “bamboo diplomacy,” but the US and Vietnam elevated their relationship to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” when President Biden visited the Southeast Asian nation earlier this month.

With the upgrade, Vietnam has elevated the US to the same diplomatic status as Russia and China. From Beijing’s perspective, any major US arms sales to Vietnam would be viewed as part of the US military buildup in the region aimed at China.

Like China, Vietnam has sweeping claims to the South China Sea, and the disputed waters are a significant source of tension between Hanoi and Beijing and an area where Vietnam could deploy F-16s.

One US aim of the potential deal is to reduce Vietnam’s reliance on Russian weapons. According to Reuters, since the US lifted an arms embargo on Vietnam in 2016, US arms exports to the country have been limited to coast guard vessels and trainer aircraft, while Russia has supplied Vietnam with 80% of its weapons.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.