Indonesia is supportive of the U.S. military's strategic shift to focus on the Asia-Pacific region, a stance that is in line with Indonesia's efforts to procure U.S. defense equipment.
“We have no problem with that [an Asia-Pacific U.S. military presence]. Before Ashton Carter, U.S. deputy secretary of state, visited Jakarta earlier this month, and made those remarks. Leon Panetta [the then-U.S. defense secretary] had made similar remarks and said that the U.S. will move some of its fleet to Asia-Pacific,” says Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro. U.S. involvement in Asia is about working with countries in the region to promote greater stability, Purnomo notes.
He also argues that as countries in Asia further develop their military capabilities, in line with economic growth, they need to be transparent about what they are doing. If countries are not open about their intentions, there is a danger that their actions may spark an arms race in the region, he adds.
Indonesia has been adding military aircraft this year and is about to receive more; it is trying to buy eightApache attack helicopters, likely to be assigned to the army. Purnomo says: “The U.S. has given approval for the sale of Apaches to Indonesia. Now we are at the point to talk about the deal. The price is something we may have to review.” Industry executives say Indonesian military officials have complained about the high price that Boeing has quoted for the Apaches.
Another procurement in the pipeline is anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the navy. Purnomo says Indonesia is in the process of choosing a helicopter for ASW, and that there are three or four types being considered.
Apart from its purchases of defense equipment, Indonesia is also an exporter. Purnomo has taken on the role of helping to promote state-owned Indonesian defense companies overseas, such as Indonesian Aerospace. He recently met with Pakistan's air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Rafique Butt, and discussed more Indonesian military exports to Pakistan. Pakistan's air force operates Indonesian Aerospace. Purnomo says Pakistan's air force is interested in more military transports and that Indonesia could fulfill that requirement with CN235s and C295s.
Purnomo also says Pakistan's air chief was keen to promote the Pakistani-built JF-17 fighter, though such an order is unlikely because Indonesia already operates Sukhoi fighters and. Indonesia also has 12 Sukhoi fighters, with four on order. Purnomo notes the last Sukhoi fighters on order will arrive by the end of June. Some news reports in Indonesia have quoted Purnomo as saying the country will order one more squadron of Sukhoi fighters, but he and Indonesia's air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia, both told Aviation Week at the LIMA Airshow in Malaysia on March 27 that Indonesia has no plans to buy more Sukhoi fighters.
Instead, it will receive 24 second-hand Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds from the U.S. that are being upgraded to a higher block standard. “The latest information we have is that before October 2014 there will be eight upgraded F-16s delivered to Indonesia,” Ida Bagus says.
The country also has 16 Korean Aerospace T-50 jet trainers on order. “Hopefully the first can be delivered in July this year,” says Ida Bagus, adding that they “hope to receive eight this year and the others next year.” These will replace the air force'sHawk Mk 53 aircraft at Iswahyudi AB in East Java. Indonesia has been operating the MK 53 since the 1980s, so the hours on the airframe mean the aircraft really needs to be retired, he says. It does, however, plan to retain its Mk 109 and Mk 209 Hawks, which are newer.
The air force has also ordered 18 Grob G120TP primary trainers. Ida Bagus says the first are due to arrive in Indonesia by the end of April. “We hope to receive 10 this year and the rest will be next year.” The aircraft will be stationed at Jogyakarta AB and replace the air force's AS202 and T-34C aircraft. The air force also has fourSuper Tucano trainer aircraft stationed at Malang AB. These are also used for light attack. Ida Bagus says four more will be coming this year and the other eight on order next year.
Indonesia's air force is a major customer of Indonesian Aerospace and its Spanish partner,. It recently received two Military C295s and has seven more on order. Indonesian Aerospace President Director Budi Santoso says the first seven are to be made in Spain, but all subsequent C295s for the Indonesian market are to be made at Indonesian Aerospace in Bandung, starting next year. The air force has options for more C295s and the government has said it plans to order more for the armed services and police. The air force also has one Indonesian Aerospace CN235 on order and plans to order one Indonesian Aerospace NC212i, a new aircraft in development. Ida Bagus says they may end up being the launch operator for the NC212i.
As for other requirements, the air force wants more land-based, long-range radar. Ida Bagus says it hopes to add the first three radars by the end of 2014 and has a requirement to eventually add a total of 32. Also, Indonesia has no airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft. “What we have is three-200s equipped with surveillance equipment for maritime patrol. We feel we need to have AEW and hopefully in the future we will have it. For Indonesia it is very important. We have a wide area we need to monitor.”