Late last month, Indonesia received delivery of two upgraded Su-30 aircraft that had been scheduled earlier. The delivery highlighted Jakarta’s continued reliance on Russian equipment as one key source as it builds up its military capabilities, in spite of the various challenges that remain for the defense relationship.
As I have noted before in these pages, Russia is one of several partners Indonesia is looking to as it develops its military capabilities more generally. While both sides have a range of defense interactions, including exchanges and dialogues, military equipment purchases have been a key aspect of the relationship. Though some form of defense collaboration has been going on since the midst of the Cold War, ties with respect to arms sales intensified particularly in the 1990s and the early 2000s, and have included armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, assault rifles, planes, and helicopters.
One of the programs that has been in the spotlight is Indonesia’s purchase of Su-30s, one of several Russian-made platforms that the Indonesian military operates. After an initial contract to buy Su-30MKs in 2003, Indonesia followed up with more orders including for Su-30MK2 fighters subsequently as well. This has also come amid a focus on other developments as well, with a case in point being a potential purchase of Su-35s which has seen repeated delays due to issues related to the deal as well as wider policy considerations including U.S. scrutiny regarding Southeast Asian defense purchases from Moscow.
Last month, Indonesia’s development of its air force capabilities was in the headlines again with the delivery of two more Su-30 aircraft. Per local media reports, the TNI-AU had taken delivery of two more Su-30 aircraft that had undergone upgrades in Belarus previously on July 28.
The local media reports were subsequently confirmed by defense outlet IHS Jane’s. On August 14, Jane’s reported that in response to its queries, the TNI-AU office of information and public affairs replied that the aircraft, bearing the serial numbers TS-3001 and TS-3002 respectively, were delivered to the TNI-AU’s Sultan Hasanuddin airbase in South Sulawesi via an Antonov An-124-100M cargo transporter on 28 July.
The delivery of the aircraft is in line with previous Indonesian maintenance efforts in this vein. Indonesia has sent its Su-30s for overhaul in Belarus previously as well, and they have been subsequently been transported back to Indonesia in a similar fashion, with Indonesian personnel witnessing the admission process of the fighter aircraft.