The Jakarta Post
Spain stressed on Wednesday that the Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighter is the best choice for Indonesia to modernize its air force when it comes to technical capabilities and the transfer-of-technologies offer.
Spanish Ambassador to Indonesia Francisco JosÃ© Viqueira Niel said that the Typhoon might be more expensive than its competitors, but it offers a better operational cost over the jet fighter's life cycle of some 30 years.
'The competition is for the replacement of the F-5. There are many serious competitors,' Niel told journalists on Wednesday.
'The main thing is that our product is better. The Typhoon is built with engines to last the entire life cycle.'
Niel said that although the Typhoon was slightly more expensive, in the end it was much cheaper because there was no need to replace the engine.
The Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) made it public that it wanted to replace its ageing F-5 E/F Tiger IIs with Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35s, the latest model of the Flanker family. Currently, TNI AU operates a mixed fleet of single-seater Su-27s and double-seater Su-30s in the 11th squadron based at the Sultan Hasanuddin Air Force Base in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
Engines for the Flankers, however, have a very short lifetime when compared to Western-built jet fighters.
Another strong contender is the single-engine Swedish-built SAAB Gripen, while both the Flanker and Typhoon are twin-engine jet fighters.
Niel said Gripen was a good fighter, but not the best for Indonesia considering the vast airspace and maritime space to be covered.
'With the Typhoon's range of operations, you can cover the entire Indonesian air space, including the 200-kilometer exclusive economic zone, with the two existing air bases,' he emphasized.
Another interesting reason to pick the Typhoon, Niel said, is the transfer-of-technology package.
'We have the know-how. The Eurofighter package is quite interesting as almost all of it can be used in IFX,' he said, referring to the KFX/IFX jet fighter development being pursued by South Korea and Indonesia.
Even if Indonesia decided not to buy the Typhoon, Niel said the avionics and electronics can be acquired to be used in the indigenous jet fighter program.
The Swedes and Russians are also offering various types of transfer-of-technology packages to sweeten their deals.
Spain's long relations with Indonesia in the aerospace sector has given it the appointment as the representative of the four-country Eurofighter consortium, which also includes Germany, Italy and United Kingdom.
Niel said the cooperation started between PT Industri Pesawat Terbang Nurtanio (IPTN) and Construcciones Aeronauticas Sociedad Anonima (CASA) in the 1970s to build the C-212 Aviocar light transport aircraft. The aircraft is licence-built and was given the designation NC-212 in Indonesia. Now the production of this type is located solely in Bandung as the Spaniards are focusing on bigger aircraft types.
PT IPTN is now known as PT Dirgantara Indonesia, while CASA is now part of Airbus Defense and Space.
On another note, Niel said there were plenty of other opportunities other than the defense sector to be explored.
He said the bilateral trade between the two countries stood at Â¤2 billion (US$2.27 billion) in 2014, which could have been higher considering the potential both countries have.
'We can cooperate more in the infrastructure and of the world's top 10 construction firms were from Spain.
'Two Spanish companies, Tecnica Reunidas and Centunion, built the Dumai refinery in the 1980s at about the same time with the cooperation between IPTN and CASA.'
Niel said that more investment in the infrastructure sector, especially ports, railways and highways, would help Indonesia grow even faster, up to 10 percent.
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