XMAS PRESENT FOR TNI: Indonesian Air Force personnel steer a Sukhoi jet fighter at the Sultan Hasanuddin Air Force base in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Friday. Two Sukhois recently arrived and will join the existing four others at the base. (JP/Andi Hajramurni)
Two Sukhoi fighter jets arrived in Indonesia on Friday from Russia, the first out of a total order of six for the country, defense officials said.
Russian cargo plane Antonov AH-124-100, which carried the two Sukhoi jets, landed at the Sultan Hasanuddin Air Force base in Makassar, South Sulawesi, at around 10:30 a.m.
Air force base commander First Marshall Ida Bagus Putu Dunia told the press the two jet fighters would be ready for service by the end of January 2009.
"The jet fighters will be assembled by Russian technicians, which will take about 10 days. After that, there will be test flights of the Sukhois. Once they are operational, the jet fighters will be officially handed over to the Indonesian government through the defense ministry," he said.
Air Squadron 11 commander Lt. Col. Widyargo Ikoputera said the new Sukhois -- type SU 30 TS3003 and TS 3005 -- had an advanced navigation system and multifunctional display equipment that would help pilots maneuver them easily in flight.
"Our pilots are used to navigation systems from jet fighters made by Western countries. The Sukhois use the same technology so it should be easy for our pilots," he said.
The Air Force has seven Sukhoi pilots who have finished training in Russia, but they plan on increasing that number, Iko said.
Sukhoi procurement project head Col. Mahandono told Antara news agency that the Sukhois would replace A-4 Sky Hawk jets based at the Air Squadron 11 in the Sultan Hasanuddin airforce base.
He said the two planes were part of six Sukhois bought from Russia under an export credit facility scheme.
The six will bring the total number of Indonesia's Sukhoi fleet to 10 by 2010, strengthening the airforce squadrons across the country, Mahandono added.
Russia has provided Indonesia with a US$1 billion-credit scheme to finance this and other military purchases from the European military giant, including 22 helicopters, 20 amphibious tanks and two submarines.
"The first two jets out of the six bought by Indonesia have been delivered to the customer," the Interfax news agency quoted a Sukhoi spokesman as saying in Moscow.
The two delivered jets were of the Su-30MK2 class and another Su-30MK2 jet is due to be delivered at the start of next year. Three Su-27SKM fighter jets will arrive by 2010, Interfax said.
This transaction was part of a wide-ranging defense deal agreed upon when the then president Vladimir Putin visited Jakarta in September 2007.