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Indonesia deploys F-16s to Malaysian border

March 7, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Indonesia has sent four F-16 fighter jets to a disputed border region with Malaysia to join patrols by seven Indonesian warships. The jets will be based temporarily in the border area.

Indonesian viper with typical camouflage scheme [TNIAU photo]

Tensions have risen in the area over Indonesia's and Malaysia's overlapping boundary claims in the Sulawesi Sea, including an offshore oil field.

Jakarta has protested against a move by Malaysia's national oil company Petronas to award Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell a concession in the area, saying it encroaches into Indonesian maritime territory.

Indonesia has since sent seven Navy ships to patrol and guard the disputed area.

Warships from both countries came into close contact in the area on Saturday, but a standoff was defused when they agreed to conduct joint patrols of the disputed maritime border.

The fighter jets are there to back the Navy in launching joint patrols. So, this is not a war situation.

The last territorial dispute between the two countries - over the islands of Sipadan and Ligatan, off Borneo's east coast - was resolved peacefully when the International Court of Justice ruled that the islands belong to Malaysia.