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Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Udara (TNI AU)
Indonesian Armed Forces - Air Force Modernization
AURI - Air Force of the Republic of Indonesia

Significant modernization did not get under way until the late 1970s, with acquisition of F–5 and A–4 aircraft from the United States, and in the 1980s, with the acquisition of F–16 fighters from the United States and Hawk fighters from Britain. The imposition in the late 1990s of arms embargoes by the United States and other countries in response to Indonesia’s human-rights violations, particularly in East Timor, resulted in a very low readiness level in the air force.

Most of the major weapons systems operated by the air force were manufactured in the United States and consisted of the C-130 Hercules, OV-10F Bronco, F-5E Tiger II, and A-4E Skyhawk. The air force also operated several B-737 aircraft for maritime reconnaissance. During the modernization period of the 1980s, the air force also purchased the Automated Logistics Management System (ALMS) from the United States to upgrade its ability to track and requisition spare parts and materials.

In 1999, the European Union implemented an arms embargo against Indonesia prevented the delivery of several Hawk fighter jets to Indonesia. The European Union embargo was lifted in January 2000, allowing the United Kingdom, to complete the delivery of the Hawk fighter jets to Indonesia and sell other arms to it.

As of 2004 the Indonesian Air Force had 259 aircraft of which only about 50% were airworthy. The fleet consisted of various type of aircraft such as Hercules C-130, F-16A/B, F-5E/F, L-100-300, Bae Hawk Mk-53-100/200, Bell Helicopters, Skyhawk, C-47 Dakotas, Sikorsky, Su-27SK/30SK, B-707, CN-235, F-27, and F-28. Most of the aircraft are 10 - 20 years old. For the next five years, the Indonesian Air Force would like to spend US$2.7 billion to purchase additional Sukhoi, Super Puma Helicopter NAS-332 and its simulator, CN-235, C-130H, and KT-1B. Both the Indonesian Military and Police operate their own maintenance facilities for routine or simple scheduled maintenance and service. For major maintenance, repair and overhauls, they send engines to manufacturers' approved repair stations in Indonesia or abroad.

PT Indonesian Aerospace, previously named PT IPTN, is the only aircraft manufacturer in Indonesia. The company manufactures the CN-235. PT IA had restructured the company by changing the board of directors and cutting its employees from 9,670 to 4,000. The GOI, through the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency, agreed to hold a 92.9% share in PT IA. In November 2006, PT IA signed an MOU with EADS for producing 60 units of CASA 212-400 worth of $480 million for a 5-year period. PT IA is also working on several orders to deliver CN-235 to the Pakistani Air Force, Malaysian Air Force, and the Government of Thailand. In addition, PT IA has to deliver three Marine Patrol Aircraft (MPAs) and 16 Super Puma helicopters to the Indonesian Air Force and six MPAs and five helicopters to the Indonesian Navy. Besides manufacturing an aircraft, PT IA has contracts to manufacture parts for BAE and Airbus Industries.

When Indonesia could not get spare parts for its F-16 fighter squadrons, which were acquired when the U.S. still supported Indonesia against the Communists, Russia offered their Sukhoi Su-30Ki to replace the F-16s in the Indonesian inventory. Despite the acquisition and training costs associated with transitioning to a new aircraft, the TNI had to accept the change in order to maintain an operational air force.

Indonesian Armed Forces Commander Air Marshal Djoko Suyanto said in 2007 that the country needed at least one squadron equipped with 16 Sukhoi fighters to replace part of the outdated fleet of US F-16 fighters. Under a $300 million contract, signed in 2007, Russia was to supply three Su-30MK2 and three Su-27SKM fighters to Jakarta. Under the contract, two Su-27SK jets must be delivered by the end of 2009. One more fighter was delivered in 2010. Russia delivered the last of six contracted Su fighter jets to Indonesia in 2010. On 17 September 2010 Indonesia's Air Force chief of staff Marshal Imam Sufaat said his country planned to buy six more Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia. He said the purchase would be on the Defense Ministry's long-term agenda, but was not sure when the plan would be implemented. "The existing squadron of Sukhois remains insufficient to give a deterrent effect given our vast territory," Imam told the Antara news agency.

Indonesia's C-130 fleet is old and after the turn of the century only a modest portion of the planes were operational. Indonesia has made the rebuilding of its military lift capacity a top priority. US assistance -- in the form of foreign military sales and financing--are beginning to reverse the years of decline during sanctions. Indonesia is a vast country with serious needs in areas such as disaster relief and additional assistance will be needed to upgrade its operational capabilities in terms of lift capacity. C-130 lift capacity is a problem for Indonesia. The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) has owned a total of 31 C-130 aircraft in several variants over the years. Of these, by 2009 four had crashed and two had been withdrawn from service. At that time eleven C-130 aircraft were currently in operation. The entire C-130 fleet was of US origin. Seven of the planes were purchased through Direct Commercial Sales (DCS); the rest were purchased through Foreign Military Sales (FMS). None had been acquired through FMS since 1981. During the years of US sanctions, the GOI was denied access to replacement parts and supplies. Due to this, the fleet was cannabilized to keep at least some planes operational. That trend is only beginning to reverse and Indonesia will need more assistance.

Indonesia is working to expand and modernize its armed forces towards the goal of reaching a Minimum Essential Force (MEF) in 2024. But just what constitutes this Minimum Essential Force has not been clearly defined. Presidential Directive No.7 of 2008 which established the MEF concept, defined it as, “a force level that can guarantee the attainment of immediate strategic defense interests, where the procurement priority is given to the improvement of minimum defence strength and/or the replacement of outdated main weapon systems/equipments.” Over the years, Indonesia’s Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and senior Indonesian military officers have made various statements as to the numbers of weapon systems and platforms that would meet the MEF requirement. Some of the numbers stated seem unlikely to be attainable given financial constraints. Defense Minister Purnomo stated in 2010 that Indonesia would be interested in buying up to 180 Sukhoi fighters, a somewhat unfeasible number given the fact that it took almost a decade for Indonesia to procure the ten Sukhoi fighters it currently operated.

Asian Military Review reported in 2012 that "Indonesia is targeting some 180 combat aircraft by 2024 as its MEF goal though it is unlikely that such a number will be reached though Indonesia has initiated efforts that will allow it to reach half that target number." However, a review of projected combat aircraft acquisition plans suggest that it might be a close call, with a total of 150 combat aircraft plausibly in service by 2025.

In July 2010 Pakistan Defense Minister Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar offered his Indonesian counterpart the latest jet fighter called the JF-17 during his visit to Jakarta. Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro responded to the offer, saying that further discussion would be conducted in October. “We will see it first before we decide if we have an interest in purchasing the aircraft,” Purnomo said.

In early 2011 it was reported that Indonesia had decided to purchase a squadron of 16 South Korean-made supersonic T-50 Golden Eagle trainer jets (The Jakarta Post, 14 April 2011). The $400 million deal with Indonesia would see Korea sell 16 T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jets, jointly built by Korea Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin of the United States. But this deal apparently was not concluded. Indonesia wanted to exchange its medium transport CN-235 airplanes with South Korean T-50 Golden Eagle jet trainers in an attempt to promote local products overseas and boost cooperation between the two countries. The Republic of Koreas Air Force (ROKAF) purchased 20 CN-235 aircraft, 12 of which were built by CASA in Spain and the remaining eight by Dirgantara Indonesia.

On 09 September 2011 Indonesia and South Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen defense bilateral cooperation. Indonesia is also exploring possibilities to buy T-50 jet fighters from South Korea, while South Korea to buy CN-235 from Indonesia. South Korean Minister Kim Kwan-jin was scheduled to speak in a seminar on defense industry at the Indonesian defense ministry office. Indonesia was expected to pick South Korea as the preferred negotiator for its planned purchase of an advanced trainer jet. It would mark a major breakthrough in Seoul`s efforts to export the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet.

Indonesia and South Korea talked about the possibilities of producing KFX / IF-X (Korea/Indonesia Fighter jet Experimental) fighters. The KFX project was forged in 2009 when Purnomo and his South Korean counterparts signed a memorandum of understanding during current South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Indonesia in 2009. Indonesia has taken a huge gamble in a deal with South Korea to manufacture a new type of fighter plane, with a real risk that the project could end in disaster. The initial stage of the deal was estimated to cost $8 billion, with Indonesia required to shoulder 20 percent of the cost, or around $1.6 billion. The rest would be financed by South Korea. Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said in July 2011 that the planes were expected to be ready by 2020, with Indonesia set to buy 50 of an estimated 200 units expected to be produced under the KFX project. The partners agreed to produce approximately 150-200 aircraft, of which Indonesia would get 50, sufficient to equip three combat squadrons. Jakarta expected the first KF-X to be ready by 2018. The government had so far earmarked around Rp 1.35 trillion ($158 million) for the project to be released during the next four years as the project entered its production phase. The first phase would cover 18 months of technical development through 2013, after which five prototypes were expected to be built — four on South Korean soil and one in Indonesia.

On 30 December 2011 Indonesia signed a $470 million contract with Russia to buy six Sukhoi Su-30MK2 jet fighters for the Indonesian Air Force, boosting the total to 16. The government was reported to have allocated $470 million to buy the planes even though the price was initially announced at $328.8 million. The Jakarta Post daily reported the deal on 10 January 2011. Deliveries will start after 2013. Indonesian Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin said his office had handed over the contract to Rosoboronexport. “We have another contract still in progress,” Sjafrie said.

At that time the Indonesian Air Force had 10 Sukhoi jetfighters - six Sukhoi SU-27SKMs and four Sukhoi SU-30MK2s. The Air Force planned to place one squadron of the jet fighters at Hasanuddin Airbase in Makassar. Russia had recently completed a $300-million contract signed in 2007 on the delivery of three Su-30MK2 and three Su-27SKM fighters to Jakarta in addition to two Su-27SK and two Su-30MK fighters purchased in 2003. The official handover ceremony for the last three Su-30MK fighters, delivered by Russia as part of an agreement from 2007, was held at the Sultan Hasanuddin airbase in the South Sulawesi province of Indonesia on 27 September 2010.

Reports in 2011 suggested that Britain and Indonesia were negotiating the sale of 24 Eurofighter Typhoons in a $2 billion deal. When British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Jakarta 11 April 2012, the sale of arms was high on the agenda. The British prime minister, who was seeing sluggish economic growth at home, was traveling with an entourage of 30 business delegates during his five-day trip to Asia. As China increased its defense spending and India emerges as the world’s largest importer of arms, Southeast Asia’s largest economy is heading in the same direction. Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has launched an ambitious plan to modernize its under-equipped military and defense industry. Hoping to capitalize on strong economic growth and ballooning defense budgets in the region, Prime Minister David Cameron told local media that Britain produces some of the “best defense equipment in the world.”

Airbus Military’s February 2012 sale of nine C295s to Indonesia will expand the company’s industrial relationships in Southeast Asia, as certain airframe elements for the twin-engine tactical airlifter are to be produced by the PT Dirgantara Indonesia aerospace company – which also is to handle final assembly tasks for certain of the multi-role transport aircraft specifically provided to the Indonesian Air Force. The Indonesian Air Force C295s will be used for missions that include military and logistical transport, along with humanitarian and medical evacuation. The start-up of deliveries for these aircraft is foreseen in 2012, and should be completed by 2014.

On 02 July 2012 Australia and Indonesia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the transfer of four Australian Defence Force C-130 Hercules aircraft to Indonesia. The signing follows the Prime Minister’s offer in November 2011 to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to transfer up to four aircraft to Indonesia. Australia is very pleased to make this contribution to Indonesia’s airlift capability, which will support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. The C-130 heavy lift transport aircraft will contribute to Indonesia’s capacity to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crisis. Indonesia will fund all refurbishment and ongoing maintenance costs associated with the aircraft. Reports indicated that Australia could sell an additional six C-130Hs that it will also phase out of service.

On August 6, 2012 Embraer Defense and Security delivered four light attack and tactical training A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to Indonesia’s Air Force to replace Indonesia's grounded U.S.-made OV-10. Indonesia was the first operator of Super Tucano in the Asia-Pacific region. These four A-29 Super Tucano are from the initial batch of eight aircraft purchased by the Indonesian Air Force (IAF) in 2010. The IAF has since ordered a second batch of eight Super Tucanos as part of their equipment modernization exercise, bringing the total number of orders to 16 aircraft.

The Super Tucano was chosen by the Indonesian Defense Forces to replace a fleet of OV-10 Broncos as part of their equipment modernization exercise for years 2009 – 2014. With more than 157,000 flight hours and over 23,000 combat hours achieved, the Super Tucano offers the flexibility to perform a broad range of missions including light attack, surveillance, air-to-air interception and counter insurgence. The aircraft makes excellent use of the most recent electronic, optical, infra-red and laser technologies, as well as secure radio communications with data-link, and an unparalleled weaponry capability, making it highly reliable and at a top-level cost/benefit ratio for a wide range of military missions, even operating from unpaved runways.

The Indonesian National Air Force (TNI AU) will strive to achieve one of its targets by providing 16 Sukhoi fighter planes for Air Squadron 11 Wing 5 of Sultan Hasanuddin Airbase in 2013, in order to modernize TNI AU defense system primary equipment (alutsista). “According to planning, this procurement of fighter planes shall be completed in 2014. However, exclusively for Air Squadron 11, since its defense system primary equipment is Sukhoi fighter planes, we encourage the accelerated completion of Sukhoi procurement processes in 2013. Conclusively, for our preparation, in 2014 the squadron will be fully equipped with 16 units of Sukhoi fighter planes, all of them being ready to fly,” Vice Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin said 18 April 2013 while observing Air Squadron 11 Wing 5 of Sultan Hasanuddin Airbase, Makassar, South Sulawesi.

The Vice Minister of Defense explained that with the arrival of 2 units of Sukhoi MU Su-30 MK2 fighter planes in February 2013, up to now TNI AU already had 12 units of Sukhoi Su-27 SKM and Su-30 MK2 jet fighter planes manufactured by Russian aircraft industry, Konsomolsk-Na Amure Aircraft Production Association (KNAPO). TNI AU was still awaiting the remaining 4 other fighter planes of the last 6 ones which Indonesia has ordered from Russian manufacturers. The remaining 4 other fighter planes were expected to arrive in June 2013, so that Air Squadron 11 would be fully equipped with 16 units of fighter planes.

Indonesian Air Force planned to buy more sophisticated fighter jets to replace its aging US-made Northrop F-5 Tiger II fleet of a dozen aircraft, and is considering Russian Sukhoi Su-35 (Flanker-E) jets, Indonesian Air Force chief Agus Supriatna said 04 February 2015. "We hope the government fulfills our wish to purchase Sukhoi SU-35s. All can place orders, but we, as the operators, want jets over generation 4 to be ordered," Supriatna said. The Indonesian government is still deliberating over whether it should buy new fighter jets to replace the old F-5E Tigers. Indonesian Military Commander Moeldoko listed several options for new fighter jets such as Sukhoi 35, Eurofighter Typhoon, SAAB JAS-39 Gripen, and F-16 Block 52+.

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