Indonesia wants to exchange its medium transport CN-235 airplanes with South Korean T-50 Golden Eagle jet trainers in an attempt to promote local products overseas and boost cooperation between the two countries, top officials say.
Indonesian-made CN-235s have been sold to several countries in the world, including South Korea, as “military and surveillance vehicles”, said Amir Sambodo, special staff for the Coordinating Economic Minister.
“There have been talks that if Indonesia buys T-50s, there will be compensation for Korea to purchase CN-235s,” Amir told reporters at the Indonesia-South Korea bilateral meeting at the Westin Resort in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Thursday.
Indonesia, he added, may have the potential to sell two or four more CN-235 planes to South Korea.
“This needs to be increased to mutually benefit both countries. If South Korea is good at trainer jets, we are strong in transport aircraft, so this is win-win cooperation.”
The CN-235, introduced in 1988, is a medium-range twin-engine transport plane that was jointly developed by CASA of Spain and the Indonesian state aircraft maker, then PT Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara (IPTN) and currently known as PT Dirgantara Indonesia (DI).
The aircraft’s primary military roles include maritime patrol, surveillance and air transport, with the largest user being Turkey, which has 61 aircraft, followed by South Korea as well as Spain and Indonesia.
The T-50, the first supersonic aircraft made by South Korea and one of the world’s few supersonic trainers, is an advanced trainer and multirole light fighter developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) beginning in the late 1990s.
Amir’s statements came after Indonesia’s Coordinating Economic Minister, Hatta Rajasa, said in his opening remarks at the bilateral meeting that he expected Seoul to procure more CN-235 planes.
“I have been informed by my colleague that Korea uses Indonesia’s CN-235 aircraft and I hope to see more of our aircraft flying over Korean skies in the years to come,” he said, adding that South Korea “has expressed interest in adding more CN-235 planes”.
The Republic of Korea’s Air Force (ROKAF) has purchased 20 CN-235 aircraft, 12 of which were built by CASA in Spain and the remaining eight by Dirgantara Indonesia. In addition to transport airplanes, ROKAF also uses CN-235s as VVIP aircraft for the country’s leaders.
The plane is also used by countries throughout the world, including, among others, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, France, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
“Our planes are better than CASA’s, so the Koreans are eager to use the Indonesian planes. In my opening remarks, I sent a signal for Korea to deploy more CN-235 planes,” Hatta said when asked by reporters after the bilateral meeting.
PT DI is currently working on four CN-235-110 MPAs for the South Korean Coast Guard in a contract worth US$96 million.