The United States is giving, not selling, Jakarta two dozen second-hand F-16C/D fighter planes to strengthen bilateral ties and foster what the Pentagon has called a “much-needed” capability to protect Indonesian air space.
Obama and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia announced the F-16 transfer near the end of a nine-day Asia-Pacific tour that Obama used in November to re-emphasize U.S. interests in the region.
The F-16s are decommissioned and no longer part of the U.S. Air Force inventory. Once retooled and upgraded, they will boost Indonesia’s “interoperability” with the United States, the Defense Department said at the time.
Interoperability is the extent to which military forces can work with each other to achieve a common goal. The refurbished aircraft add to Indonesia’s existing fleet of 10 earlier-model F-16s.
The quantities of missiles being sought by Indonesia would support both the existing fleet and the 24 being provided as U.S. surplus, the notice to Congress said.
Jakarta is paying up to $750 million to upgrade the second-hand Lockheed Martin Corp fighters and overhaul their United Technologies Corp’s Pratt & Whitney-built engines.
Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia and the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, is only one part of the growing U.S. emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region for national-security planning.
The United States also is building Guam as a strategic hub, deploying up to four shore-hugging littoral combat ships on a rotational basis to Singapore and preparing what is to be a 2,500-strong Marine Corps task force rotation as part of a tightening military partnership with Australia.