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Indonesia Inks MoU To Acquire ‘World’s Best’ Dogfighter – F-15EX From Boeing; Will Join French Rafales

The Republic of Indonesia has inked a memorandum of understanding with Boeing to acquire up to 24 F-15EX fighters during a visit of Indonesia’s Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto to the United States.

Indonesian Defense Ministry officials signed the MoU on August 21, with Boeing emphasizing that the deal is contingent upon approval from the US government. 

In a press statement by Boeing, Subianto stated, “We are pleased to announce our commitment to procure the critical F-15EX fighter capability for Indonesia. This state-of-the-art fighter will protect and secure our nation with its advanced capabilities.”

Air Vice Marshal Yusuf Jauhari, who leads Indonesia’s Defense Facilities Agency, along with Mark Sears, Boeing Fighters’ Vice President, and General Manager, finalized the agreement following a factory tour by the Indonesian delegation. 

But Boeing and the defense ministry chose not to reveal information regarding the financial aspects of the arrangement. 

In February 2022, the US government’s Defense Cooperation Security Agency (DSCA) announced its endorsement of a potential $13.9 billion Foreign Military Sale (FMS) arrangement to supply Indonesia with 36 Boeing F-15IDs.

But Boeing’s announcement on August 21 concerning the F-15EX MOU utilizes the term “F-15IDN” for the Indonesian fighter, contrasting with the previously used designation “F-15ID.”

“The F-15EX is the most advanced version of the F-15 ever built, with digital fly-by-wire flight controls, a new electronic warfare system, an all-glass digital cockpit, and the latest mission systems and software capabilities, which will all be leveraged in delivering the new F-15IDN,” according to Boeing. 

Bringing together years of expertise in developing the capabilities of the F-15EX, Boeing emphasized the uniqueness of the F-15 among fighters, asserting that this advancement will position Indonesia at the forefront of air dominance capabilities. 

F-15EX Program Viewed as Pathfinder for Digital Century Series Initiative

The company also expressed its readiness to support this initiative. It reaffirmed its committed partnership with the US government in advancing security objectives on an international scale in collaboration with allies and partners across the globe.

In November 2022, Boeing and Indonesian Aerospace entered a memorandum of understanding to explore potential collaborative areas if the F-15EX sale were to be finalized.

Indonesia’s Pursuit Of Air Force Modernization

In recent years, Indonesia has raised its defense expenditures to revamp its aircraft fleet. Jakarta currently operates American-produced F-16s and Russian Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 jets.

The country also placed an order for the French Rafale fighter jets. Dassault Aviation disclosed on August 10 that an agreement for the second phase of Rafale fighter aircraft for Indonesia had become effective on that day. 

The order made under the second phase is for 18 Rafales, and this comes after the first tranche of six Rafales became effective in September 2022, resulting in a total of 24 aircraft on order.

Jakarta’s ultimate plan is to acquire 42 Rafales for $8.1 billion; however, the procurement is being carried out in stages rather than all at once. 

Procuring the “latest generation” Rafale for the Indonesian National Army Air Force encompasses a comprehensive “turnkey” solution and significant industrial benefits for the Indonesian aviation sector. 

Rafales: Credit: MoD Qatar

Additionally, educational initiatives will be started to boost technical expertise in aeronautics. The acquisition of F-15s and Rafales will act as distinct assets, guaranteeing Indonesia’s sovereignty and operational autonomy and improving its position as a key regional power.

Apart from these two fighter jets, Indonesia has also secured a deal worth $800 million for purchasing 12 second-hand Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft, a decision that attracted criticism due to the aircraft’s relatively older condition.

Furthermore, the Southeast Asian country also planned to acquire 50 KF-21 new-generation fighter jet units, a collaborative endeavor undertaken jointly with South Korea.

Indonesian aerospace contractor PT Dirgantara Indonesia stands as a participant in the KF-21 project, sharing its role with Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) with a 20 percent stake. 

Despite this arrangement, several instances of Jakarta neglecting payments to solidify its involvement raise doubts about its steadfastness to the project in the long term. 

Nonetheless, the commencement of KF-21 production is anticipated to take place only between 2026 and 2028. Given this timeline, the decision to acquire Rafales and F-15s appears justifiable and is poised to significantly enhance Indonesia’s Air Force’s capabilities. 

Overall, the intended procurement of advanced fighter jets by the Indonesian Air Force marks a significant leap in capability, contributing to the reinforcement of Jakarta’s position as a prominent regional influence.

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