Indonesia’s Deputy Defence Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono has indicated that Jakarta may look to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to meet the next-generation combat requirements of the Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Udara: TNI-AU).
In comments to the news channel CNN Indonesia on 18 March, Trenggono said that Indonesia had not terminated the TNI-AU’s planned acquisition of Sukhoi Su-35 ‘Flanker-E’ multirole combat aircraft from Russia even if that procurement programme faced challenges.
“We can’t buy [the Su-35s] yet because there are some obstacles,” he said, without elaborating.
Indonesia has indicated a potential bid to procure Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter through an inter-governmental agreement with the United States. (US Air Force)
Trenggono said that, given these obstacles, Indonesia is now also considering a bid for the F-35 through a government-to-government arrangement with the United States. “We are exploring [the possibility] of changing the procurement to the F-35 from the US,” he said.
Trenggono had been asked by CNN Indonesia to comment on a Bloomberg report on 12 March, which, quoting an unidentified official “familiar with the matter”, said Indonesia had recently decided against moving ahead with the plan to procure the Su-35.
This Su-35 deal – featuring 11 aircraft for USD1.1 billion – was provisionally agreed with Russia in February 2018 but has been subject to delay.
The delaying factors were reported to include the presidential elections, which were held in April 2019, funding and countertrade issues, and concerns in Indonesia that the US may invoke sanctions on the country in line with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which seeks to penalise military customers of Russia.