Two key acquisition programmes for the Indonesian air force are much to the fore here at the Indo Aerospace show. One is aimed at replacing the air force’s ageing Northrop F-5E/Fs that serve with 14 Squadron at the Iswahjudi Air Force Base in Madiun, East Java, while the other is for a more advanced aircraft being developed in co-operation with South Korea.
Indonesia’s F-5 replacement programme has been under evaluation for some time, and has drawn multi-role fighter proposals from several manufacturers. Now it appears that there are four serious contenders for the prize. Two of them are advanced versions of aircraft that currently form the backbone of the Indonesian air force, the Sukhoi Su-27/30 ‘Flanker’ and the Lockheed Martin F-16, while two come from Europe – the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Saab Gripen.
Sukhoi is proposing the Su-35, and earlier media reports suggested that it had received strong air force backing. However, there has been no order, and the three Western manufacturers remain confident that they have a chance to compete for the contract. Lockheed Martin is offering the F-16V, a development with the SABR “e-scan” radar. Saab is proposing the Gripen fighter for the requirement, suggesting it could deliver in a short timeframe, and is also offering a wider air defence package with the GlobalEye surveillance platform. Offset packages, technology transfer and a high degree of local participation are considered as important elements of any bid. Eurofighter suggested in April last year that it could establish an assembly line for the Typhoon in Indonesia.
In the meantime, PT DI and Korea Aerospace Industries continue on the development of the KF-X/IF-X 4.5 generation fighter that is intended to serve with both Indonesian and Korea air forces. Indonesia has taken a 20 per cent stake in the programme and companies from both countries are showcasing the programme here at the show.