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Indonesia considers buying additional F-16s

February 17, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Indonesian Air Force will consider a US government offer to sell them block 52 F-16s and C-130J Hercules heavy transport planes, according to the Indonesian news agency Antara.

Nose detail of TNIAU F-16A block 15 #TS-1608 from 3 sqn parked under a shelter. [Photo by Alexander Sidharta]

The F-16 fighter jets are needed to increase the Air Force's capacity and deterrent capability as many of its combat aircraft are approaching the end of their service time, said Vice Air Marshal Soenaryo, chief of the Air Force's Material Maintenance Command.

They will consider buying the planes under our procurement plan for 2010-2014 which would fit in with the Air Force's plan to reduce the variety of its aircraft to economize on maintenance and servicing costs in the 2008-2019 period, Soenaryo said last friday.

The multi-role F-16 Fighting Falcons could replace the force's F-5E Tiger fighters which had been in service for almost 25 years.

"We will possibly build up an F-16 squadron gradually in the 2010-2014 budget years. The interest to acquire the aircraft must first be thoroughly considered at Air Force Headquarters level with due account being taken of the limited amount of state funds available. After approval has been obtained at Air Force Headquarters level, we will submit the plan to the Defense Ministry for acquisition," Soenaryo said.

Financial constraints have prevented Indonesia from modernizing its defense equipment, a condition exacerbated by a U.S. decision to put an arms sales ban on Indonesia in 1999 due to its poor human rights record.

Washington partially lifted the ban, allowing sales of personnel carrier planes to Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami that killed more than 150,000 people.  

Apart from discussing the US offer to supply F-16 aircraft, the Air Force chief and Lemkin also agreed at their meeting to intensify cooperation between the two countries' air forces in the fields of education, training and spare parts supply.

Indonesia became the 12 customer of the F-16 when in August 1986, they ordered a total of 12 F-16A/B block 15OCU aircraft. An additional order for 9 aircraft (from the embargoed Pakistani order) and plans for the acquisition of up to 60 F-16s was eventually cancelled.