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Indonesian Air Force Modernization - Transport

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.

On May 20, 2009, a C-130 Hercules plane carrying troops and their families caught fire and nosedived into a residential neighborhood in Magetan, East Java, killing 101 people, mostly civilians. At that time eleven C-130 aircraft were currently in operation. Of these, by 2009 four had crashed and two had been withdrawn from service.

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 was only beginning to reverse and Indonesia will need more assistance.

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.

Indonesian authorities say engine failure likely doomed the military transport plane that crashed into a residential neighborhood on the island of Sumatra 30 June 2015, killing at least 141 people. Air force officials said Thursday initial findings indicate a propeller malfunctioned and that the Hercules C-130 failed to gain enough speed shortly after taking off from an air base in the town of Medan. Eyewitnesses reported seeing the 51-year-old plane emitting smoke and flames as it made a sharp turn to the right, apparently in an attempt to return to the airport before crashing.

Most military cargo planes carry a relative scant number of people compared to commercial flights. But this air force plane, loaded with ammunition, took off from Suwondo air base at Polonia loaded with about 100 passengers – believed to be mainly relatives of military personnel – plus 12 crew members. Although officials denied the military plane carried any paying passengers, local media reported that some had paid as much as $75 to board the flight to Tanjung Pinang in the Riau islands.

Indonesia's air force grounded its fleet of aging Hercules cargo planes after the midday crash of a C-130B into a residential neighborhood in the city of Medan on Sumatra. Indonesia's president, Joko Widodo, is vowing to replace all old military planes after the tragedy in Medan, the latest in a series of deadly air crashes going back a quarter of a century. “There must be an evaluation of the age of planes and defense systems. Hopefully, we can stay away from disasters,” the president said.

Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu Ryamizard said 11 May 2016 Indonesia planned to purchase some Airbus A400M military transport aircraft, in a potential boost to Europe's largest defense project. "I have a plan to buy A400s from Europe ... but just a small number. There is no need to buy many," Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said without elaborating. Airbus' A400M had been marred by development delays and cost overruns. One of the planes crashed in Spain a year earliero killing four crew members and leading some countries to ground the troop and cargo carrier.

Indonesia approved a sum of US$2 billion for the acquisition of five Airbus A400M Atlas multirole aircraft to boost the country's military airlift capabilities, multiple sources from within Indonesia's government and defence industry confirmed to IHS Jane's on 18 January 2017. The acquisition was approved with the condition that the final three airframes undergo final fit-out at state-owned PT Dirgantara's facilities in Bandung.

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