The Jakarta Post
After prolonged discussion, including the comparison of five different types of jet fighters, the Defense Ministry has decided to procure Russian-made Sukhoi SU-35s to replace the retiring F-5 Tiger jet fighters.
Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu announced the decision after conducting inspections in three military units: the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), Cavalry Battalion Yonkav 1/1 Kostrad and Infantry Battalion 201 Yudha Jaya.
'We will sign the agreement [on the Sukhoi procurement] this month,' Ryamizard said, adding that Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and Air Force chief of staff Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriyatna had backed the decision.
Ryamizard said there was no special reason behind the decision to buy the Sukhoi jet fighters.
'We have bought Sukhois before and our pilots are accustomed to flying Sukhois, so they will suit us well,' he said.
He added that the decision to buy jet fighters from Russia would not strain the relationships between Indonesia and other jet fighter manufacturers in the world.
'We have bought weapons systems from many countries; China, Russia, the US and European countries. So it shows that Indonesia is quite a neutral country. We don't want to take sides. We want to be friends with all countries,' Ryamizard said.
It was reported that before being selected, the Sukhoi SU-35 had to compete against four other types; the American-made F-16 Block 60, the Swedish-made JAS-39 Gripen, the Eurofighter Typhoon, a collaboration between Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, and the French-made Rafale jet fighter. Ryamizard said that besides purchasing the Sukhoi Su-35s, Indonesia also planned to procure Boeing aircraft and Chinook helicopters from the US.
The Sukhoi purchase will be carried out in stages depending on the government's financial capacity.
'We wanted to buy one squadron, but we are aware of the current [financial] situation so maybe [we will buy] around eight [units]. The jets will be all brand new and have complete weapons,' Ryamizard said.
The current price of a Sukhoi Su-35 is estimated to be US$65 million.
Director general of defense planning at the Defense Ministry Air Vice Marshal M. Syaugi said the procurement of the Sukhois would follow requirements stipulated in Law no. 16/2012 on the defense industry. According to the law, in order to buy weapons systems from foreign countries the government must follow several requirements including a mandatory 70 percent of transfer of technology (ToT), offset and countertrade.
'We're still waiting for the go-ahead from the government about our plan [to buy the Sukhois], including the National Development Planning Board's [Bappenas] approval,' Syaugi said.
According to research conducted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) earlier this year, the modernization of the TNI's weapons systems began 15 years ago, but has proceeded slowly due to a lack of funds.
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