SINGAPORE — Indonesia’s government has ordered six more Sukhoi Su-30s for the air force, a sign the Southeast Asian nation wants to balance its growing relationship with the U.S.
The country’s deputy defense minister, Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, has told local news media that the ministry has signed a firm contract for six Su-30MK2 aircraft.
The minister says the contract was awarded to Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport on Dec. 30. The local reports, without citing sources, say first deliveries will be sometime after 2013 and the fighters will be stationed at Hasanuddin Airbase near Makassar city in eastern Indonesia. The air force currently has six Sukhoi SU-27SKMs and four Sukhoi SU-30MK2s.
Russian news agency RiaNovosti says Russian diplomatic and defense sources confirm that Indonesia has ordered six more Su-30MK2s.
The Indonesian government has always said that it planned to order more Su-30s. This latest contract with Russia comes after Indonesia and the U.S. reached a deal late last year in which the U.S. government agreed to donate 24 secondhand/Bs to Indonesia, which the country could then pay to upgrade to C/D standard.
Indonesia in recent years has been developing closer economic and defense ties with the U.S., which now looks favorably on Indonesia because the Southeast Asian nation has a huge consumer market and is a democracy.
But the Indonesian defense establishment still wants to maintain ties with Russia, because the Indonesians remember the arms embargo the U.S. imposed on Indonesia from 1999 to 2005. The sanctions were instituted in response to Indonesia’s bloody crackdown on the independence movement in Timor Leste, a nation that finally gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 following decades of fighting.