THE DIPLOMAT – Indonesia and Russia will sign an agreement for the procurement of eight Su-35S multirole fighter jets at the Russia-ASEAN Summit to take place in the third week of May at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, ANTARA News reports. The signing of the contract will be witnessed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, according to Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, who spoke to local media about the defense deal this week in Jakarta.
“The plan to purchase eight 4.5-generation Sukhoi Su-35 jets fighters was made after Indonesia bought 24 Sukhoi 27/30 aircraft,” Ryacudu said. The Su-35S is a single-seat, twin-engine upgraded fourth-generation super-maneuverable multirole fighter powered by two AL-117S turbofan engines, and featuring fifth-generation aircraft technology.
“The purchase of the of the Sukhoi Su-35 aircraft is aimed at strengthening the capabilities of the Indonesian Defense Force,” Salim Mengga, an Indonesian lawmaker and member of the House of Representatives Commission overseeing defense procurement, told ANTARA News.
Originally, Ryacudu was to finalize the an agreement for the purchase of ten S-35 aircraft during a visit to Moscow in March. The signing of the contract, however, did not occur and the date was first pushed back to April and is now slated to occur in May. The Indonesia defense minister already announced in September 2015 that a deal for the purchase of a squadron of Su-35 fighter jets had been struck between Indonesia and Russia.
The initial deal purportedly was for a total of 16 aircraft. This number was later reduced to ten and now to eight, although Indonesia still has the option of procuring the additional two Su-35s in the future, according to contract stipulations. The contract also includes pilot training and knowledge transfers through a military exchange program.
“Indonesia’s turn toward Russian fighters stemmed partly from necessity. Its 12 remaining F-16A/Bs and 16 remaining F-5E/F fighters experienced severe maintenance problems in the wake of a U.S. embargo, triggered by the Indonesian military’s widespread human rights abuses in East Timor,” according to Defense Industry Daily.
The Indonesia Air Force (TNI-AU) presently consists of 12 F-16A/Bs aircraft, six (some sources say 12) F-5E/F fighter jets, five Russian-made Su-27s and 11 Su-30s, as well as 15 Hawk 209 sub-sonic light combat aircraft used for training purposes. The TNI-AU is also involved in funding South Korea’s KF-X fighter jet initiative and plans to eventually procure 80 new fighter aircraft from the program.