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Indonesia Delays Purchase of Secondhand Fighter Jets

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Indonesia Delays Purchase of Secondhand Fighter Jets

A Defense Ministry spokesperson said that the acquisition of the Dassault Mirage 2000-5 jets had been postponed due to fiscal constraints.

Indonesia Delays Purchase of Secondhand Fighter Jets

A French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jet flies over Florennes Airbase in Florennes, Belgium, June 15, 2017.

Credit: Depositphotos

The Indonesian government has postponed a plan to purchase 12 secondhand Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets formerly used by Qatar’s air force due to budget shortfalls, according to a government official.

Reuters reported that Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, a spokesperson for Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, made the comments in a panel interview with broadcaster TV One on January 1. The government “has delayed the purchase of Mirage jets because our fiscal capacity, for the time being, cannot support such purchase,” Dahnil said, adding that the delay had been decided by the ministries of defense and finance.

For some time, Indonesia has been seeking to overhaul its aging air fleet, which includes U.S.-made F-16 and Russian Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 jets.

In January, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration signed a 733 million euro ($801 million) deal for the purchase of the 12 secondhand Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets, a variant of the fighter manufactured by French company Dassault Aviation. The purchase was made via Excalibur International a.s., a unit of the Czech defense company Czechoslovak Group, which was acting as an agent for the jets, which the Qatar Emiri Air Force initially acquired in the late 1990s. The planes were scheduled to be delivered to Indonesia by January 2025.

The purchase, which was to be funded by foreign loans, was criticized at the time by Indonesian parliamentarians, who questioned the age of the fighters, which are no longer being manufactured, making it hard to source spare parts. Some also argued that the purchase could violate the 2012 Defense Industry Law, which seeks to promote the local defense industry.

The purchase was intended to bridge the air force over until the delivery of a batch of 42 new Rafale jet fighters, also manufactured by Dassault, which was announced in February 2022 and will make Indonesia the largest purchaser of French arms in Southeast Asia. Three jets, the first of the $8.1 billion purchase, are due to be delivered in January 2026.

Last year, the Ministry of Defense defended the purchase of the secondhand jets as “a quick and effective solution to fill the gap in its air force capabilities.”

Since their acquisition by Qatar nearly three decades ago, the jets have reportedly seen little use. They have been kept in storage since the mid-2000s, during which time the government has sought various international buyers for them. The fleet has been offered to Pakistan and India without success, while Bulgaria has also expressed interest.

In his interview yesterday, Dahnil added that the Indonesian Air Force would instead order a retrofit for its existing Sukhoi and F-16 aircraft to hold it over until the arrival of the first Rafale jet fighters in two years.

According to some local sources, the Defense Ministry chose to cancel the acquisition of the jets after encountering difficulties in securing a foreign loan to fund it, despite receiving a government-backed guarantee.

As Reuters noted in its report, the decision to delay the Mirage purchase came shortly after Jokowi approved of a 20 percent increase in defense spending to the end of 2024, to help upgrade the country’s military hardware. Last August, Indonesia signed an agreement to purchase 12 new drones from Turkish Aerospace worth $300 million, followed shortly by purchases of 24 F-15EX fighter jets from the U.S. firm Boeing and 24 Black Hawk transport helicopters from Lockheed Martin.