Indonesia plans to embark on a procurement drive over the next five years to modernise its armed forces, with the purchase of new aircraft for the air force and army high on the list of priorities.

Around 150 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($16.8 billion) is required over the next five years for the modernisation, says defence minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro. The government aims to provide two-thirds of this sum, with the remainder to be covered by loans, he adds.

Foremost on the shopping list will be new fighters, transport aircraft and utility and search and rescue helicopters, say industry sources. Upgrades to existing aircraft could also be on the cards. The challenge, however, is finding the budget for all of this, they add.

Additional Sukhoi fighters are a priority for the Indonesian air force, with chief of staff Air Chief Marshal Imam Sufaat saying that the country could buy another six Su-30s. Jakarta has taken delivery of all 10 Su-27 and Su-30MK/MK2 fighters that it ordered earlier this decade, with the last aircraft having arrived in mid-September.

"The existing squadron of Sukhois remains insufficient to give a deterrent effect given our vast territory," Imam told the Antara news agency, adding that the proposal to acquire more had been approved by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

These would complement the service's existing Northrop F-5s and Lockheed Martin Block 15 F-16A/Bs, the latter of which have also been considered for upgrade.

Jakarta has also given the nod to a joint venture between Indonesian Aerospace and Korea Aerospace Industries, paving the way for the two companies to co-operate on Seoul's KF-X fighter programme. The South Korean government will fund 60% of the costs, while KAI and Indonesia's defence ministry will contribute 20% each.

South Korea plans to procure around 200 of the fighters to replace its F-5s and Indonesia is expected to buy 50 for its air force. Jakarta hopes that its aircraft will be manufactured in-country by IAe, with the first examples to roll off the assembly line in 2020.

Indonesia has also been looking to upgrade some of its transport aircraft and buy either new or refurbished ones. There is growing pressure on the government to move on this, especially after high profile crashes involving a Lockheed C-130B and a Fokker F27 last year. The military also wants progress, given the necessity to move troops around the vast archipelago.

 C-130H Indonesia - Australian DoD
© Australian Department of Defence
Indonesia needs to modernise its current Hercules fleet

Eurocopter and IAe have also agreed to set up an assembly line for the Super Puma MkII in Bandung. Serial production is due to begin in 2011, with Indonesia viewed as a potentially lucrative market for helicopter manufacturers.

Apart from utility and transport helicopters, Jakarta is also keen on search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare helicopters, sources say. This will help the military to both look after the country's vast territory and be prepared for the natural disasters that strike the country occasionally.

Source: Flight International