European ‘Hurricane’ Jets Rafales & Typhoons Next Big Headache For China?

Amid India’s acquisition of French Rafale jets and Japan and Taiwan set to acquire F-35 fighters and F-16 ‘Vipers’ respectively, China could further be encircled by western jets as Indonesia looks to procure Eurofighter Typhoons.

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According to various news reports including TheJakartaPost, surfacing on social media, Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner had accepted Indonesia’s plea to acquire 15 Austrian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons and had planned to enter “concrete sales negotiations” with Jakarta.

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President Joko Widodo, in a bid to check Beijing’s incursions into the Indonesian waters in the South China Sea, sees the deal to bring in the 15 twin-engine Typhoons from Vienna as the perfect plan to increase its military strength, which has been facing increasing hostilities from China on its northern maritime border.

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As reported earlier, Indonesian defense minister Prabowo Subianto had written a letter to his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner offering to purchase the country’s entire fleet of 15 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets in July.

Subianto’s letter reportedly stated – “As I was always impressed by European technologies and know-how, I would kindly ask your support for the following proposal, which hopefully leads to a mutual benefit for our two countries.”

File:Eurofighter Typhoon "Ghost Tiger".jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Eurofighter Typhoon “Ghost Tiger” – Wikimedia Commons

To achieve my target of modernizing the Indonesian Air Force, I would, therefore, like to propose to enter into official deliberation with you, your Excellency, on purchasing all 15 Eurofighter Typhoons from Austria for the Air Force of the Republic of Indonesia.”

China which claims most of the South China Sea region as its sovereign territory has already been entangled in a spat with the United States, who has in recent times increased its naval presence in the region, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for other nations to join hands in countering China’s dominance.

“The United States’ policy is crystal clear: The South China Sea is not China’s maritime empire. If Beijing violates international law and free nations do nothing, history shows the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will simply take more territory. China Sea disputes must be resolved through international law.” said Pompeo said in a tweet.

These developments showcase the probabilities of the US-China spat embroiling into a full-fledged military conflict, which could see US’ most advanced F-35 Stealth fighter jets flying over the skies of the South China Sea.

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Moreover, it is already involved in an ever-escalating military dispute with India, who are looking to deploy the newly inducted French Rafales at the Ladakh border. Now, with its ties with Indonesia faltering, Beijing might have to gear themselves up to face another highly competent western jets in the form of the Typhoons.

Developed by British Aerospace EAP, the Eurofighter Typhoon is considered to be the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft providing simultaneously deployable Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface capabilities.

Through the additions of weapons like Paveway IV, Storm Shadow, Meteor, Brimstone II, and other elements of a ‘Phased’ enhancement programme, and carrying out combat operations like Operation Shader over Syria and Iraq, as well as air policing missions in the Baltics, the Typhoons have proven operational capabilities.

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While the Eurofighter is not a stealth jet, some of its weapons are partially recessed into the fuselage, which helps minimize its radar return signature. What also helps conceal its engines from the enemy radar is the fact that its air intake ducts are s-shaped rather than a straight-through design.

Moreover, another striking feature of the aircraft is its enhanced maneuverability. Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper, who flew the fighter jet, said –  “The Eurofighter is certainly, as far as smoothness of controls and the ability to pull (and sustain high G forces), very impressive.”

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Over 550 Typhoons have been deployed by countries which include Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman, with Kuwait and Qatar having ordered them. With the jets continuing to demonstrate high reliability across the globe in all climates, Indonesia’s addition of these fighters in their air fleet will help counter the Chinese threat effectively.