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The Never-ending Story: Indonesia-Russia Aircraft Deal Still Not Signed

 
 

After over two years of drawn-out negotiations, Indonesia and Russia have yet to conclude a final contract for the procurement of 11 Russian-made Su-35S ‘Flanker-E’ multirole fighter jets for the Indonesia Air Force (TNI-AU), Russia’s state hi-tech corporation Rostec reported on August 23.

“A commercial proposal has been handed in. Contractual negotiations are expected to begin. The talk is about 11 planes,” an August 23 Rostec press release notes. As I reported previously, Indonesia and Russia appeared to have agreed on most details of the contract in July including an offset obligation program and technology transfers. Both sides purportedly also agreed on a financing model.

“Russia is expected to grant Indonesia a loan for the purchase of the military aircraft. The Indonesian defense ministry budgeted a total of $1.5 billion for the purchase of up to 16 new fighter jets,” I reported. Yet, “the defense minister neither revealed the price for the 11 Su-35s nor whether the contract contains an option to purchase five additional Su-35 fighter jets at a fixed price in the future.”

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Indonesia and Russia already kicked off contract negotiations in November 2015 when a joint military-technical cooperation commission was established. While Russia was interested in quickly concluding a deal, Indonesia repeatedly pushed back on the price for the aircraft and offset obligations.

The Su-35 (NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) Fourth++ generation is one of Russia’s most advanced fighter aircraft. Is is a highly maneuverable multirole fighter jet, powered by two 117S turbofan engines, and equipped with the Irbis-E passive-electronically scanned-array radar capable of tracking up to 30 targets simultaneously and reportedly able to engage up to eight.

The Su-35 is the latest variant of Russia’s Flanker-series. As I reported previously, the TNI-AU is already operating five Russian-made Su-27s and 11 Su-30 MK/MK2s.  The Su-35 fighter jets will replace U.S.-made F5 E/F Tiger II  aircraft, which had been in service with the TNI-AU since the 1980s and have been retired over the last years.

It is more than likely that the final contract will be signed in the coming weeks. “There will be 11 planes. After two years, it was finally finalized,” Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu already said last month. The minister’s statement coincided with the TNI-AUs announcement of the beginning of the second phase of its 2014-2019 upgrade plan.

As part of that plan, the TNI-AU will add ten more F-16A/Bs fighter jets in addition to the 14 currently in service purchased from the United States under a $750 million Excess Defense Articles (EDA) contract. Furthermore, Indonesia is also funding 20 percent of development cost for the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KFX next-generation stealth fighter jet.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) will receive ten additional Su-35 aircraft this year.

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