Headlines

Air Force to purchase
16 Super Tucano fighters

The Indonesian Air Force plans to purchase a squadron of 16 warplanes widely known as Super Tucanoes to replace the OV-10 Bronco aircraft, which have been in service for more than three decades, says Air Force Chief Marshal Imam Sufaat.

"The purchase is part of our effort to improve the Air Force's weaponry system. We have proposed the purchase to the government with the hope that they will grant the funds," he said in Yogyakarta on Saturday.

Imam was in Yogyakarta to witness the job transfer of the Air Force Academy governor from Rear Marshal BS Silaen to his successor Air Commodore Sru Artjarjo.

Imam declined to reveal the price of the Brazilian light attack and observation jet planes or when the deal would be made but said the warplanes were the suitable and affordable choice to replace the turboprop-driven aircraft.

He further said three more Sukhoi fighter jets, part of a squadron ordered in 2007, would arrive from Russia this year.

Seven units of the bombers have already been received by the Air Force.

"Hopefully, we will have 10 Sukhoi fighter jets no later than October this year," he said as quoted by kompas.com.

Besides the Sukhoi squadron, the Air Force also has a squadron of US-made F-16 Falcon fighter jets and F-5 Tiger bombers, two squadrons of British-made training Sky-Hawk and Hawk bombing jets, which have been regularly deployed to maintain the country's sovereignty over its vast air space.

On Friday, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said Indonesia was also looking into the possibility of procuring weapon systems, including warplanes, from China and forging bilateral cooperation in weapon systems development.

"We are now discussing the kinds of weapon systems that we want to purchase from China. And for that purpose, the Defense Ministry and the Indonesian Military *TNI* will hold further bilateral talks," he said after meeting with China's State Councilor Dai Bingguo in his office.

Dai was in Indonesia to follow up President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's visit to China in 2005. He was accompanied by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa when signing technical and partnership cooperation with the Indonesian Defense Ministry.

Djoko acknowledged that, so far, the partnership agreement held potential as it opened dialogue for the two countries to develop better defense industry systems. The foreign minister and Dai also signed two MoUs on money laundering and extradition of Indonesian fugitives in China and vice versa.

Indonesia has turned to eastern European countries, China and Latin America to supply military hardware in a bid to reduce its dependence on the United States, which maintains a weapons and military hardware embargo on Indonesia in connection with past military conflicts and alleged human rights abuses in Timor Leste and Aceh.

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