April 01, 2013
Credit: Airbus Military
Indonesia is supportive of the U.S. military's strategic shift to focus on the Asia-Pacific region, a stance that is in line with Indonesia's efforts to procure U.S. defense equipment.
“We have no problem with that [an Asia-Pacific U.S. military presence]. Before Ashton Carter, U.S. deputy secretary of state, visited Jakarta earlier this month, and made those remarks. Leon Panetta [the then-U.S. defense secretary] had made similar remarks and said that the U.S. will move some of its fleet to Asia-Pacific,” says Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro. U.S. involvement in Asia is about working with countries in the region to promote greater stability, Purnomo notes.
He also argues that as countries in Asia further develop their military capabilities, in line with economic growth, they need to be transparent about what they are doing. If countries are not open about their intentions, there is a danger that their actions may spark an arms race in the region, he adds.
Indonesia has been adding military aircraft this year and is about to receive more; it is trying to buy eight Boeing Apache attack helicopters, likely to be assigned to the army. Purnomo says: “The U.S. has given approval for the sale of Apaches to Indonesia. Now we are at the point to talk about the deal. The price is something we may have to review.” Industry executives say Indonesian military officials have complained about the high price that Boeing has quoted for the Apaches.
Another procurement in the pipeline is anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the navy. Purnomo says Indonesia is in the process of choosing a helicopter for ASW, and that there are three or four types being considered.
Apart from its purchases of defense equipment, Indonesia is also an exporter. Purnomo has taken on the role of helping to promote state-owned Indonesian defense companies overseas, such as Indonesian Aerospace. He recently met with Pakistan's air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Rafique Butt, and discussed more Indonesian military exports to Pakistan. Pakistan's air force operates Indonesian Aerospace CN235s. Purnomo says Pakistan's air force is interested in more military transports and that Indonesia could fulfill that requirement with CN235s and C295s.
Purnomo also says Pakistan's air chief was keen to promote the Pakistani-built JF-17 fighter, though such an order is unlikely because Indonesia already operates Sukhoi fighters and Lockheed Martin F-16s. Indonesia also has 12 Sukhoi fighters, with four on order. Purnomo notes the last Sukhoi fighters on order will arrive by the end of June. Some news reports in Indonesia have quoted Purnomo as saying the country will order one more squadron of Sukhoi fighters, but he and Indonesia's air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia, both told Aviation Week at the LIMA Airshow in Malaysia on March 27 that Indonesia has no plans to buy more Sukhoi fighters.