This story was updated Sept. 10, 2021, at 9:28 a.m. ET with comment from Lockheed Martin.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Indonesia has quietly signed a contract with Lockheed Martin for C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, multiple sources have told Defense News. Photos taken during the Indonesian Air Force chief’s visit to the aircraft’s production line suggests construction on the first aircraft is underway.
The government and industry sources told Defense News that Indonesia will acquire five C-130Js under a Direct Commercial Sales contract. They added that the contract was signed in late 2019, although neither party formally announced the order.
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to reveal information related to the acquisition.
These claims were given further credence during Air Chief Marshal Fadjar Prasetyo’s ongoing visit to the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Georgia, where he was photographed alongside a C-130 cockpit section that was still under construction but already bore the Indonesian flag.
Lockheed has included Indonesia on its list of C-130J operators, with a September 2021 version of the aircraft type’s fact sheet stating the country has the stretched C-130J-30 version on order.
Lockheed confirmed to Defense News that Indonesia is a customer for the C-130J, but referred all other questions to the Indonesian Air Force.
Prasetyo also visited Lockheed’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, and said in a news release that the C-130J would boost Indonesia’s airlift capabilities.
He added that the Air Force’s current fleet of older C-130s have distinguished themselves in supporting disaster relief efforts in Indonesia over the years, including supporting efforts to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by delivering vaccines and medical equipment throughout the country, which is made up of more than 17,000 islands.
The Southeast Asian archipelago nation is also regularly affected by natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and flooding, and together with the remote nature of many of its islands, that means an airlift capability is vital to Indonesia’s military quickly accessing the country’s territory.
The Air Force currently operates about a dozen C-130B, C-130H and civilian-standard L-100 aircraft. These include nine refurbished C-130Hs transferred from Australia after the latter retired its fleet in favor of the C-130J in 2012.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News. He wrote his first defense-related magazine article in 1998 before pursuing an aerospace engineering degree at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. Following a stint in engineering, he became a freelance defense reporter in 2013 and has written for several media outlets.