Archipelago

RI first class air force
on horizon: Minister

Ready to fly: Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro shares a light moment with House of Representatives’ Commission I member, retired Marshal Basri Sidahabi, while inspecting a German-made Grob G120TP-A at the Adisucipto Air Force Base in Yogyakarta on Friday. The government received four out of the 16 aircraft ordered. (JP/Bambang Muryanto)
Ready to fly: Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro shares a light moment with House of Representatives’ Commission I member, retired Marshal Basri Sidahabi, while inspecting a German-made Grob G120TP-A at the Adisucipto Air Force Base in Yogyakarta on Friday. The government received four out of the 16 aircraft ordered. (JP/Bambang Muryanto)

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said that the recent attention given to the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) would result in a first class air force.

“The air force base in Makassar [South Sulawesi] will receive six new Sukhoi jet fighters soon,” Purnomo said during the hand-over ceremony for four training aircraft at the 101st Training Squadron (Skadik) hangar, Adisutjipto Air Force Base (AFB), on Friday.

The four German-made Grob G120TP-A are part of an order of 16 airplanes — worth some US$72 million — to be delivered in stages until 2014.

Also in attendance at the ceremony was Grob Aircraft CEO Andre Hibbler.

“The cockpit is comfortable. It’s air conditioned,” said Purnomo as he was inspecting the aircraft.

Purnomo said the aircraft, which were assembled at Adisutjipto AFB and tested on Aug. 28-29, would replace Skadik 101’s older training craft — the Swiss-made FFA AS-202 Bravo and American-made T-34C Turbo Mentor.

“On behalf of the Indonesian government I express gratitude to the German government for this cooperation,” Purnomo said.

Marshal (ret.) Basri Sidahabi, of the House of Representatives’ Commission I overseeing defense affairs, said that the renewal of major-weapons systems would strengthen the country’s air defense system. “It will bring TNI AU on par with the air forces in neighboring countries,” he said.

The same appreciation was also expressed by Hibbler to Purnomo: “In the name of our family and government, I would like to say thank you for this cooperation,” he told the minister.

Adisutjipto AFB’s spokesman Maj. Hamdi Londong said the Grob G120TP-A, which is powered by a Rolls Royce M250-B17F engine with a five-blade propeller, was chosen as it fulfilled the operational requirements. The two seater airplane with a side-by-side configuration was deemed more suitable than the Finmeccanica (Alenia Aermacchi) SF-260TP and Pacific Aerospace CT-4.

“The aircraft’s superiority is due to its ability to fly at a speed of 439 kilometers per hour,” said Londong, adding that it’s low cantilevered wings would improve agility.

Londong also said that with a fuel capacity of 360 liters, the aircraft could fly for five hours with a reserve of 45 minutes.

“It is also capable of operating in temperatures between 20 and 72 degrees Celsius,” he said.

Other superior elements of the aircraft include the fact that it only needs a runway of some 374 meters; it has two avionics system in the dashboard, analog and digital; and it has a sliding bubble canopy for 360-degree visibility.

Londong estimated the new training craft could be used for up to 30 years. The last batch of two Sukhoi Su-30 MK2 jet fighters — also known as Flanker — arrived at Sultan Hasanuddin AFB, just outside Makassar on Sept. 4.

A total of six Su-30 MK2s have been delivered this year with earlier batches arrived in February and May. The Flankers are operated by the 11th Air Squadron.

On Sept. 11, two Korea-made T-50i Golden Eagle lead-in fighter trainers (LIFTs) arrived at Iswahjudi AFB in Magetan, East Java, for the 15th Air Squadron.

Indonesia ordered a total of 16 of T-50i LIFTs which will be delivered in stages every two weeks until the end of 2013.

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