Jakarta's Choice: Indonesia will replace its aging F-5 fighter aircraft, built by US company Northrop, with the latest Sukhoi Su-35s, similar to this Russian Air Force Su-35S, flying at the MAKS-2011 airshow in Russia. (Alex Beltyukov via Wikimedia Commons)
- Filed Under
JAKARTA — Indonesia’s defense authority is leaning toward a plan to purchase 16 of the latest generation of Russian twin-engine Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighters to replace its F-5 Tigers.
The decision to purchase the Russian fighters came after a meeting between Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and Indonesian military top brass, including Military Commander Gen. Moeldoko and Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia in mid-January.
Speaking to reporters, Yusgiantoro said they also considered other options to replace the aging Tigers beyond the Su-35 purchase.
Moeldoko said the Air Force will hold further evaluations of other fighters prior to making a final decision. Other fighters under evaluation are the Saab JAS 39 Gripen, Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60, Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle and F/A-18 Super Hornet, and the Dassault Rafale.
An Air Force adviser — a retired three-star Air Force marshal — hinted that the American fighters would likely be preferable for Indonesia.
The adviser, however, said the Tiger replacement would not be decided in the near future, despite claims that Indonesia is ready to equip its Air Force with a squadron of new fighters.
The Indonesian Air Force operates six F-5Es and two South Korean T-50 Golden Eagle advanced supersonic trainers.
The Air Force is also equipped with 10 F-16A/Bs and a squadron of Su-27/30s.
During the first phase of the Indonesian Defense Strategic Plan, the Air Force has begun receiving 16 T-50s, with final delivery expected by the end of this year.
Debate has been rife in Indonesian defense circles over whether to buy Russian, European or US fighters. A final decision will be made after the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for October.