Indonesia and Russia are holding intensive talks over the procurement of up to 10 Russian-made Su-35S multirole fighter jets for the Indonesia Air Force (TNI-AU), according to a senior Russian government official.
“There are prospects and the talks are very intensive,” the Russian president’s aide in charge of defense and technology cooperation, Vladimir Kozhin, told TASS News Agency on December 1. Kozhin did not divulge any additional details of the ongoing contract negotiations.
For over a year now, Russia has been pushing very hard to sell Indonesia Su-35 (NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) Fourth++ generation, twin-engine, highly maneuverable multirole fighter jets; however, Russia has had limited success so far despite repeated leaks to the media that a deal was imminent.
Last month, an Indonesian defense official said in a phone interview with Reuters that Indonesia is interested in purchasing “nine or ten” Su-35S fighter jets. “We are still negotiating,” he added. “We are still bargaining, ‘how much do you want to sell them for?’”
In addition, a senior manager of Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, reiterated that bilateral talks are continuing. “Bilateral talks on the delivery of Su-35 multirole fighters are being conducted very actively,” Sergei Goreslavsky said during the Indo Defense 2016 exhibition on November 2. (See: “Indonesia Still Mulling Su-35 Purchase”).
As I reported previously:
A joint military-technical cooperation commission began talks in late in November 2015 in Jakarta to discuss details of the contract, including technological transfers. (Indonesian law stipulates that at least 35 percent of the aircraft’s technology needs to be transferred to the country as part of the defense deal.)
Russia and Indonesia failed to sign a contract in early 2016. Among other things, analysts expected the inking of an agreement during the Russia-ASEAN Summit in May, 2016 but no fighter jet deal materialized. (Also, no signed contract emerged during Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu’s visit to Moscow in April, 2016.)
The exact details of the Indonesian-Russian fighter jet deal remain unknown. For example, as I noted elsewhere, there have also been conflicting reports over the total number of aircraft to be purchased:
First, Indonesia considered buying 16 new warplanes. This number went down to 10 as talks progressed. According to press reports, both sided eventually settled on eight, with an option of procuring two additional Su-35s in the future. The contract under negotiation also includes pilot training and knowledge transfers through a military exchange program.
The TNI-AU is currently undergoing a major modernization effort. By 2018, it is expecting to induct ten more F-16A/Bs fighter jets in addition to the 14 currently in service. Indonesia also operates older Russian combat aircraft including 11 Su-30s and five Su-27s. Indonesia’s defense budget has been steadily rising over the past four years.