Despite the Indonesian air force only this year signing a contract to receive 11 Sukhoi Su-35 fighters from Russia, Western manufacturers are still eyeing the potential to offer their wares under an expected continuation of the recapitalisation of its combat aircraft fleet.
The air force operates a mixed fleet including Su-27, Su-30, Hawk 100 and 200s, and the F-16, and the experience that Jakarta had in operating the older Sukhoi designs was touted as the reasoning for selecting the Su-35.
However, this deal has not run smoothly, with a barter agreement in place to finance the deal, and sanctions from the US government over sales with Russia having complicated it further, so buying Western designs could provide Indonesia with an easy route to expanding the fleet.
A number of OEMs have expressed an interest in pitching for fighter requirements expected to emerge, including Saab, which would be willing to team locally to provide an offering with industrial benefits, and BAE Systems, which would offer the newer version of the Hawk, or if it met the criteria, even the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Lockheed Martin is delivering a mid-life upgrade on 10 of the F-16s in service with the IAF, Randy Howard, programme lead for the company, told the Show Daily, and an additional 24 of the type have been transferred from the US government’s former fleet, representing a sizeable amount of the total fighter force.
The company would offer the Block 70/72 F-16V (Viper) with capabilities including an AESA radar for any new-build sales, Howard said: “We believe that Indonesia is looking to further recapitalise its fighter fleet, and the F-16 Block 70/72 would be a suitable fit for this,” he explained. “The F-16 is uniquely qualified for this geopolitical environment that Indonesia faces.”
Howard noted that the F-16V would fulfil air-to-ground, air-to-air and sea search requirements suited to the air force, and would benefit from radar technology that is common with that found on the F-35.
He also emphasised that it would add commonality with the growing fleet. “We know how to work with Indonesian industry,” Howard added. “This is exactly what the Indonesians are looking for… We’re here to support the conversations that need to happen."
A sale of the aircraft would also offer commonality with other regional operators of the type, namely Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea.