Awaiting 4.5-Gen Rafale Fighters, Indonesia Buys Second-Hand Mirage 2000 Jets From Qatar; Here Is Why

Indonesia has officially announced that it entered into a contract to purchase Qatar’s French-manufactured Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets this year.

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In an official news release, the Indonesian Air Force confirmed it had inked a contract valued at $795.14 million in January. The contract entails the purchase of a fleet of 12 Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jets from the Qatar Emiri Air Force.

The Middle Eastern country currently possesses nine Mirage 2000-5EDA aircraft of single-seat configurations and three Mirage 2000-5DDA aircraft of twin-seat configurations.

The Indonesian Air Force said that the contract encompasses the acquisition of 12 Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters and includes additional components and services.

These additions consist of 14 engines, a comprehensive three-year support services package, essential ground support equipment, crew training provisions, and various other forms of support.

As per the agreement, the delivery of the aircraft is expected to be completed within two years from the contract date.

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A Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft of the Qatar Emiri Air Force. Photo c/o Reddit

The confirmation comes after several media outlets published this news, citing sources outside Indonesia. 

On June 6, French digital publication Intelligence Online first reported that negotiations are taking place between the Defense Conseil International (DCI), the Qatari Ministry of Defense, and the Indonesian Ministry of Defense over the procurement of the Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft.

The primary purpose of DCI, in which the French government owns a majority stake of more than 50%, is to provide training for French military equipment that is supplied to other nations. 

Meanwhile, Indonesia plans to deploy the Mirage 2000 fighter jets at the Supadio air base in Pontianak, on the western coast of Kalimantan island.

This strategic air base is the home base for the Air Force’s 1 Squadron. Currently, the 1 Squadron operates the BAE Hawk 109 trainer and Hawk 209 light combat aircraft from this base.

The statement from the Air Force also highlighted that the acquisition of the Qatari jets was a temporary solution in response to the retirement of the Northrop Grumman F-5E/F Tiger II interceptors and the outdated nature of the Hawks.

Why Is Indonesia Procuring Second-Hand Mirage Jets? 

In the late 1990s, the Qatar Emiri Air Force acquired the Mirage 2000-5, a variant specifically designed for air superiority and manufactured by Dassault Aviation. The Mirage 2000-5 has proven its capabilities in combat and is widely recognized for its performance. 

These aircraft, which have seen limited usage, were stored with most of their operational lifespan intact by the mid-2000s and made available for sale.

Despite being offered to Pakistan and India, the attempts to sell them proved unsuccessful. In 2022, Bulgaria also expressed interest in acquiring these aircraft alongside Indonesia.

In November 2022, the Indonesian Ministry of Finance approved the procurement of 12 second-hand French-built fighter jets, as reported by the Indonesian news portal Ulasan.

The fleet of 12 Qatari fighters was also earmarked for acquisition by the French private contractor ARES, who envisioned utilizing them to train local naval fighter pilots. However, the deal ran into problems, and on January 1, 2023, the company shut down without disclosing the reasons for the deal’s failure.

Indonesia’s initial intention was to purchase Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker fighters from Russia. However, the country had to cancel its plan to acquire those aircraft due to heavy sanctions imposed on Moscow.

As an alternative, Indonesia shifted its focus to France and signed a contract in early 2022. The agreement entails the procurement of six Dassault Rafale fighters initially, with the hope of eventually expanding the fleet to a total of 42 aircraft.

The delivery of the first three Rafales is expected to take place in 2026. Jakarta also operates two squadrons of American-made F-16 Fighting Falcons and a squadron of Russian Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flanker fighters.

Defense experts believe that by introducing the Mirage, Indonesian pilots and technicians will have the chance to become acquainted with Dassault aircraft, facilitating their transition from Russian Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighters. 

Storm Shadow
File Image: Rafale

However, the country’s opposition lawmakers have criticized the decision to procure second-hand jets, arguing that introducing an older aircraft model in limited numbers while acquiring a more advanced fighter jet type is illogical and lacks sound reasoning.

Even so, Edwin Adrian Sumantha, the spokesperson for the defense ministry, said that this purchase is crucial for Indonesia as it requires fighter jets that can be promptly delivered to address the declining combat readiness of the Indonesian Air Force’s existing fleet.

The statement emphasizes the urgency of bolstering the country’s air defense capabilities. In accordance with its minimum force requirements, Indonesia aims to have ten fighter squadrons operational by 2024. However, it is anticipated that the country will not meet this deadline due to various challenges and constraints.

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Nonetheless, once the Mirage-2000 fighter jets are inducted, Indonesia will become the third Asian country, alongside India and Taiwan, to operate variants of the Mirage-2000. Notably, India and Taiwan have a fleet of approximately 50 Mirage-2000 fighter jets each.

Key Players Involved In Brokering the Deal

It was initially reported that Indonesia was not interested in the Qatari fighter jets. However, the finalization of the deal was influenced by several critical factors involved in the process.

Indonesia has entered into a contract with the Czech company Excalibur International, which will be an intermediary for the transaction. The financing of the deal will be supported through foreign loans, enabling Indonesia to fulfill the financial requirements associated with the acquisition.

Defense Conseil International (DCI), a private French-owned company based in Qatar, is responsible for transferring fighter jets to Indonesia. 

According to the reports, former French Air Force officer Habib Boukharouba, who owns Dubai-based E-Systems Solutions, played a vital role in the deal between Qatar and Indonesia. 

The company specializes in selling and chartering cargo planes and has worked in the Gulf and Africa for over a decade.

Prabowo Subianto, Boukharouba’s business partner, maintains strong connections with the Indonesian government. His close ties played a significant role in facilitating the successful execution of the agreement between Qatar and Indonesia.