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Indonesian air force seeks to revive light attack, trainer procurements

Indonesia's air force plans to revive a request for funds to launch competitions to replace its Rockwell OV-10 Bronco light combat aircraft and BAE Systems Hawk 53 trainers.

The service submitted requests to the country's defence ministry for funds to replace its 16 OV-10s in 2008 and 20 Hawks in 2009, but the government did not approve these due to budget constraints, and in the wake of the global economic downturn.

Indonesia's economy, however, has recovered faster than many others in Asia, which means that it could fund several defence projects this year.

A fresh proposal for the procurements will be sent shortly, as the OV-10s and Hawks need to be replaced urgently, Indonesian air force commander Air Marshal Imam Sufaat told the official Antara news agency.

"The proposal for the OV-10 Bronco replacement has already been approved, while that for substitutes for our Hawk 53s is still under discussion. But we will renew our proposal," Sufaat says.

He adds that there are five alternatives to the Hawk. These are the Aero Vodochody L-159B, Alenia Aermacchi M-346, Chengdu FTC-2000, Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50 and the Yakovlev Yak-130.

Sufaat did not say what the service wants as a replacement for its OV-10s. However, industry sources say that budget constraints may force his service to buy a trainer that could also be used for light attack applications.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago, has said that it is prioritising the need to increase its maritime patrol and transport aircraft capabilities in the coming years. Its air force last December ordered three Indonesian Aerospace-produced CN-235s for maritime patrol and reconnaissance missions. It has also been in talks with the USA about buying refurbished Lockheed C-130s and upgrading its existing examples.

The air force has, however, also been pushing the government to go ahead with plans to upgrade its existing Lockheed F-16A/B fighters, and to buy more Sukhoi Su-30MKMs.

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