JAKARTA — Indonesia has bought 12 Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets of the Qatar air force, with the government saying the deal was a fast way to upgrade the air force combat fleet despite criticism by some lawmakers on the age of the aircraft.
The Southeast Asian country’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement that Indonesia had signed the deal for 733 million euros ($792 million) with Excalibur International a.s., a unit of Czech defence company Czechoslovak Group (CSG) in January.
The ministry said they will come with three years of support service and pilot training. The fighters would be delivered within 24 months of that date, it said.
The deal, for nine single seat aircraft and three double seater trainers, was first reported June 14 by the Indonesian media. The media also said that country’s lawmakers had criticised the fast track nature of the deal including one who said that the fighters “were old.”
The French aircraft maker’s data said the first Mirage 2000s flew in the 1980s. However, the Qatar Emiri Air Force variants were the newer Mirage 2000-5, a type manufactured by Dassault Aviation that was last delivered to the Hellenic Air Force on Nov 2007 before the production line was shut down.
State news agency Antara on June 15 quoted the Head of the Public Relations Bureau of the Secretariat General of the Ministry of Defence, Brigadier General Edwin Adrian Sumantha as saying that “the purchase of the fighter aircraft was an effort by the government to prevent the decline in the readiness of the Indonesian Air Force’s combat (capability).”
Brig Gen Edwin said the ministry has plans to “rejuvenate (upgrade) and repair (overhaul/repair) several Indonesian Air Force fighter aircraft, such as SU-27 / 30, Hawk 100 / 200, and F-16.
“However, the implementation of the upgrade and overhaul/repair of the above aircraft will cause a decrease in the readiness of Indonesian Air Force fighter aircraft…Therefore, the purchase of Mirage 2000-5 is the right step to meet the combat readiness of the Indonesian Air Force,” said Brig Gen Edwin.
The country has long been seeking to upgrade its ageing air fleet which includes US-made F-5E Tiger and F-16A / B / C / D Fighting Falcon and the Russian Sukhoi Su-27SKM and Su-30MK combat aircraft, the last of which were delivered in 2007. As a stop gap measure, the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU), had looked at several used top range combat aircraft including the Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoon of the Austrian Air Force.
The ministry said plans to buy 11 of the latest Su-35 had been hampered by ongoing US sanctions on Russia. It also said that Indonesia has other plans to upgrade its fleet but the effort will take some time.
Indonesia also recently secured a deal to order 42 Rafale fighter jets also made by Dassault Aviation for $8.1 billion. A planned purchase of Boeing F-15ID (EX) fighters, already approved by Washington, is also in the advanced stages. –adj/shp/mgm (Pix: US Navy)