Military Aviation > Air Power

Indonesia Plans 180 Flankers Plus F-16s



BEIJING — Indonesia intends to acquire 180 Sukhoi Flankers and also to buy Lockheed Martin F-16s, Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro says, setting out plans for a massive expansion of the Southeast Asian country’s air combat force.

If Indonesia is serious about buying 180 Flankers, then Canberra will almost certainly fund the Royal Australian Air Force’s plan for 100 Lockheed Martin F-35s, says Andrew Davies, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Until now, there was a significant chance that Australia would buy fewer F-35s.

The Sukhoi fleet will be built up by 2024, with 18 aircraft in each of 10 squadrons, Purnomo says. F-16s will replace BAE Systems Hawks, the government’s Antara news agency says in a report carrying Purnomo’s statement.

If the country does buy 180 Flankers and if it can operate them efficiently — two big ifs — then it will have transformed an air force that now has negligible combat capability.

Indonesia has been operating its current small force of Flankers, a mix of Su-27s and Su-30s, with poor levels of efficiency and availability. Analysts believe that its nine Northrop F-5s are in worse shape. Eight of 12 F-16As and Bs ordered in the 1980s are grounded.

The delivery of three Flankers this week took the force of that type to 10. The government previously said it would buy an additional six.

“To defend our nation’s sovereignty, we have set a target to procure 180 Sukhoi jet fighters to form 10 squadrons,” Purnomo reportedly says.

Besides Australia, the Indonesian buildup also would cause concerns in Singapore and Malaysia, according to Davies, although Leonard Sebastian, a Singapore-based specialist on Indonesia, thinks that Indonesia’s neighbors, including Australia, will not react too strongly.

The Indonesian air force is “pretty weak on human resources — not just the pilots but also the support personnel,” Sebastian says, doubting that the country could operate the Flanker force efficiently.

There is less doubt that it can buy them, he adds. Indonesia has been enjoying strong mineral prices stoked by Chinese demand. And building up the air force, rather than the army, would accord with the country’s policy of creating armed forces that are more technically advanced and professional.

The minister says the strength of the Indonesian economy is helping the government pay for its arms program.

Davies, who thinks Indonesia eventually will have a large number of Flankers but not as many as 180, points out that countries across Southeast Asia are focusing increasingly on advanced military technology.

Purnomo does not say how many F-16s Indonesia wants, but the country is operating six Hawk 100 trainers and 20 Hawk 200 light attack aircraft. Two years ago the government said it wanted to buy a squadron of F-16s between 2010 and 2014.

Any further F-16s may be secondhand. The defense ministry said in July that the U.S. was offering surplus fighters at low prices.

For imports of new weapons, Indonesia will insist on technology transfer and 40% of production work, Deputy Defense Minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin says.

Photo: Sukhoi
source ;


It took them 7 years to field 10 aircraft, counting the delay before the first in 2003, you can even say 10 years. Now they announce they'll get 180 more in 14 years. That's 9x the rate at which they could be financed/introduced before and almost 1.5x times the number of F-16s. Although teething problems with Flanker introduction may have been solved and logistical solutions found, 10 squadrons is a lot of pilots and mechanics to train. Plus 24 F-16s already...

--- Quote ---Davies, who thinks Indonesia eventually will have a large number of Flankers but not as many as 180
--- End quote ---

Agreed, although it's not impossible, I really don't see it happening.

shawn a:
Hey, Indonesia, keep your hands off our F-16s, we're going to need them!  ;)
"The Air force has set aside a modest sum-($25 million)- to study how and whether to extend the lives of it's Lockheed Martin F-16s to avoid a fighter shortfall." (AW&ST Feb. 21st, 2011)

That's for the F-16C/Ds. The USAF already retired most of its F-16A/Bs, with exception of some, most notably those converted to QF-16 target drones  ::). The A/B is the one on offer as second-hand, primarily ex-ANG ADF jets. Only the C/D (and probably just the Block 4x/5x, not the 25/30/32) are the ones they seek to extend lives on, as all ANG and Reserve units converted from A/B to early C/D models (or different aircraft under BRAC) already. I think there aren't even that many Block 25s around anymore either.

shawn a:
Oh, so you mean GENERAL DYNAMIC F-16s, well in that case, Indonesia can have them. :D


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