STUTTGART, Germany — The Indonesian and French defense ministries agreed on two major equipment contracts that will bring Dassault fighter jets and Naval Group attack submarines into Jakarta’s air force and navy.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly announced Thursday Indonesia had ordered up to 42 new Rafale jets for its air force, becoming the seventh export nation to commit to the Dassault Aviation-made aircraft. The announcement comes as the minister concludes a visit with officials in Jakarta, and follows two years of discussions and months of negotiations.
“France is proud to contribute to the modernization of the armed forces of our partner, who plays a key role in ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and in the Indo-Pacific,” Parly said in a statement on Twitter.
Later on Thursday, the U.S. government announced it also had approved a possible sale of up to 36 F-15ID fighters and related equipment to Indonesia.
The French contract, which includes an initial six jets and a commitment to procure 36 more, is worth $8.1 billion, according to reporting by Reuters. The deal includes aircrew training, logistical support for several Indonesian air bases, and a training center with two full-mission simulators, per a Dassault statement. The jets will be produced in Dassault’s French facilities. French companies Thales and Safran Aircraft Engines also help to build the aircraft.
Three countries decided in 2021 to add the Rafale to their rosters. In January 2021, Greece announced its plans to acquire 18 jets, including six new aircraft and 12 secondhand models. In late November, Croatia chose to procure 12 secondhand aircraft; just a couple of weeks later the United Arab Emirates ordered 80 Rafale jets. Egypt, Qatar and India also operate the Dassault fighter jet.
The two meaty Rafale deals with the UAE and Indonesia come at a notable time, as a long-awaited industry agreement for the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program seems stalled. The top industry contractors for the program are Dassault, representing France, along with Germany’s Airbus and Spain’s Indra.
Spanish industry officials said in November that the contract was in the final stages of fine-tuning. Observers noted at the end of the year that the UAE contract for Rafale jets could strengthen Dassault’s hand in the ongoing FCAS negotiations regarding the development of the next-generation fighter jet.
The potential U.S. fighter sale to Indonesia, which could be worth $13.9 billion, would also include up to 87 General Electric or Pratt & Whitney F110 engines, including 15 spares, as well as multiple other radars, targeting pods, weapons and other equipment. Boeing in St. Louis, Missouri, would be the principal contractor on the sale.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on Thursday about that possible sale.
This is not the first time in recent months the State Department has approved a weapons purchase for a nation that had already struck a similar deal with France. In December 2021, State approved two potential deals with Greece for frigate construction and modernization in its Hellenic Navy. That announcement came after a September deal France had struck with Greece, worth about $3.4 billion, to sell three frigates from France’s naval group, with an option for a fourth ship later.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Navy could eventually take ownership of two Scorpène-class, diesel-electric attack submarines. Officials from the France-based Naval Group – which co-developed the submarine with Spain’s Navantia – and Jakarta’s state-owned ship manufacturer PT PAL signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday to build the boats in Indonesia under a technology transfer agreement. A formal contract has not yet been signed, a Naval Group spokesperson told Defense News.
The deal comes months after the news broke that Australia would pull out of a AUS$90 billion contract for Naval Group-built submarines, to instead join the United States and United Kingdom in a defense technology-sharing agreement that would include nuclear-powered attack submarines. French government and industry leaders were reportedly blindsided by the new “AUKUS” trinational partnership.
Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.