Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said Monday that Jakarta is considering the possibility of buying the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft from Japan, according to a report from Kyodo News.
“We feel (there’s a match) and we wish to buy. We’re still mulling (this), and if we already finish (the assessment) we will report to the president about this,” Ryamizard reportedly said in an interview.
This should come as no surprise. Indonesia has been seeking to boost its maritime and aerial capabilities for tasks ranging from sea patrols to rescue operations, and Japan has been one of the countries it has been looking to for assistance in this regard. Japan, for its part, has been boosting its ties with ASEAN states including Indonesia and is also looking for opportunities to export such technologies following decision in April 2014 to ease long-standing ban on international military sales.
These converging interests have resulted in enhanced cooperation between the two countries. As The Diplomat reported previously (see here and here), Jakarta and Tokyo boosted their strategic partnership with a strong focus on maritime security following a visit by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo there last month. They also inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand cooperation in defense equipment and technology. The MoU, seen by The Diplomat, specifically refers to capacity-building support as one of several areas within its scope.
Indonesia’s potential acquisition of the US-2 – an amphibious, fixed-wing aircraft ideal for search and rescue operations and already in use by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces – has itself been talked about for months, and it would seem to fit Jakarta’s needs. As Ryamizard himself has said, the US-2 does not require land infrastructure because it can land on and take off from the sea, which is quite convenient for Indonesia given its status as an archipelagic state. The US-2 is also known for its long operational range, which would enable it to reach distant islands in Indonesia quickly if needed.
As Ryamizard indicated in his comments, the Jokowi government is still mulling this and it may still take a while before the purchase is actually finalized and the planes are delivered. Kyodo News cited diplomatic sources as saying that the US-2 would be on the agenda when the two countries finally launch their “two-plus-two” security talks between their defense and foreign ministers, which was initially agreed to under Jokowi’s predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2013.