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Jakarta Post

Eurofighter proposes final assembly line, CFT works in RI

  • Novan Iman Santosa

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta/Bandung   /   Fri, April 17, 2015   /  08:23 am
Eurofighter proposes final assembly line, CFT works in RI

Sales pitch: Eurofighter Flugzeug GmbH capability promotion manager Paul Smith (left) tends to journalists next to a Eurofighter Typhoon full-scale exhibition demonstrator at PT Dirgantara Indonesia'€™s hangars in Bandung on Wednesday. The European consortium will offer an assembly line in Bandung and other enhancements should the country pick the Typhoon for modernizing the Indonesian Air Force. JP/Novan Iman Santosa

The European consortium making the Typhoon heavy jet fighter proposed on Tuesday the possibility of moving a final assembly line from Spain to Indonesia, should Indonesia pick its jet fighter to modernize the Indonesian Air Force fleet.

'€œWhat we bring to Indonesia is not just reliable protection for the nation, but the opportunity to build and maintain a genuine indigenous capability on the back of a proven partnership and all that goes with it,'€ said Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH export director Joe Parker.

He also claimed that no other jet fighter could fly faster, higher and with more weapons when it came to protect Indonesia'€™s vast maritime territory and airspace.

Parker was speaking at a master class session on Tuesday for aviation and defense journalists and writers.

Other speakers were industrial partnership manager Martin Elbourne and capability promotion manager Paul Smith.

'€œOur final assembly line in Spain will soon complete its production run as the Spanish Air Force will receive all of its ordered Typhoons by late 2017 or early 2018,'€ Elbourne said on Tuesday.

'€œIf Indonesia decided to pick the Typhoon, we can move the final assembly line from Getafe to Bandung.'€

He suggested sending Indonesian engineers and technicians to Spain to work on Spain'€™s last units of the Typhoon being made there, as well as to help make the initial number of Indonesia'€™s own planes.

'€œAfter the Indonesians learn the way to assemble the Typhoon, we can relocate the final assembly line,'€ he said.

Currently there are four final assembly lines for the Typhoon. The three other locations are in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The Typhoon, a heavy, dual-engine jet fighter, is one of among several contenders to replace the ageing, American-made Northrop F-5 E/F Tiger II operated by the 14th Squadron, based at the Iswahjudi Air Force Base in Madiun, East Java.

Other contenders are the French-made Dassault Rafale and Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35; both are also heavy, dual-engine jet fighters. There are also light, single-engine jet fighters under consideration: the American-made Lockheed Martin F-16 and the Swedish-made Saab JAS39 Gripen.

Elbourne said Eurofighter proposed to have the final assembly line at the PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI) facilities in Bandung because of the state-owned airframe manufacturer'€™s long relations with the then Construcciones Aeronauticas Societal Anonima (CASA), which is now part of Airbus Defense and Space in the Airbus Group.

'€œIt is a natural progression for PT DI to move from making transport aircraft to fighter aircraft,'€ he said.

Other than moving the final assembly line to Bandung, Elbourne also said that PT DI could design, test and manufacture conformal fuel tanks (CFT) for the Typhoon, making Indonesia the only supplier of such enhancements for the jet fighter.

'€œIndonesia could be the first country to equip Typhoons with CFTs, providing an extra range to reach the country'€™s vast maritime territory and airspace,'€ he said.

'€œOther countries that also need the CFTs would have to buy them from Indonesia as the sole source.'€

CFTs are additional fuel storage tanks that allow a jet fighter to fly farther and also to linger longer while carrying more weapons.

CFTs have several advantages, such as a smaller radar signature and drag penalties when compared to drop tanks and they allow more armaments to be placed on hard points under a jet fighter'€™s wings or belly.

Elbourne said that by making CFTs, '€œPT DI will get first-hand experience working on a jet fighter, thus increasing its current scope of capability.'€

'€œSuch increased capability could be used to leverage Indonesia'€™s participation in the IFX/KFX jet fighter program.'€

The IFX/KFX is a joint development between Indonesia and South Korea in which Indonesia has a 20 percent stake.

Eurofighter is currently displaying a full-scale Typhoon exhibition demonstrator at one of PT DI'€™s hangars in Bandung.

Other than inviting journalists, Eurofighter also hosted officials from the Defense Industry Policy Committee (KKIP) who came on Wednesday, along with bloggers, university students and lecturers, to learn about the latest technology being implemented on the Typhoon.

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