The Austrian Typhoon fighters hit the Russian Su-35s.
JAKARTA, (BM) – Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto wrote a letter to his Austrian counterpart Claudia Tanner with a proposal to start negotiations on the acquisition of all 15 Austrian fourth-generation Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing the Indonesian press.
The American edition notes that this news appeared against the backdrop of how the US State Department approved the purchase of American Bell V-22 Osprey converters. It also notes that back in 2017, Austria decided to decommission the Typhoon in favor of a “more efficient and cost-effective” solution.
“The decision on the Austrian Typhoons, which are all Tranche 1s configured primarily for air defense [air defense] missions, is a blow to Russia’s desire to sell the Su-35 fighter to Indonesia,” the newspaper writes.
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that Indonesia has chosen the Su-35 as the successor to the current Su-27 and Su-30. A corresponding contract with Russia in the amount of $ 1.14 billion, negotiations on which ended in 2018, was not signed by Indonesia, according to the publication, due to fears of sanctions from the United States.
Then the Indonesian side even gave signals that it could buy from the USA F-16 Block 72. Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Yuyu Sutisna stated on November 7 last year regarding the potential purchase in the final week of October: “Insya Allah (God Willing) we will buy two squadrons in the next strategic plan of 2020-2024. We will purchase the newest type of Block 72 Viper… Many countries are using this jet fighter, which proves its reliability.”
It was not clear then whether these will be acquired as part of a fleet expansion program, or to replace existing fighter squadrons many of which are fast ageing.
The Indonesian Air Force currently fields six fighter squadrons and a further two squadrons of British Hawk attack jets, and these include two squadrons of F-16 Fighting Falcons of the older A and C variants and a single squadron of F-5E Tiger third generation fighters.
Many of these F-16s were acquired second hand from the U.S. Air National Guard, and upgrades to older platforms remain limited.
Back in February 2018, Interfax, citing a source in Jakarta, reported that Russia had signed an agreement to supply 11 multifunctional Su-35 fighters to Indonesia in exchange for the purchase of its national goods, in particular palm oil.
If Indonesia had acquired a Russian Su-35, there were signals of an unusual air hybrid
While Indonesia has shown a strong interest in the Su-35, which would provide it with the most modern and heaviest air superiority fighters in Southeast Asia, the country has faced two key problems with acquiring the platform.
The first is the threat of economic sanctions from the United States.
A second impediment to the purchase are concerns that acquiring the Su-35 will impede Indonesian efforts to conduct network centric operations built around its predominantly Western hardware [F-16 – ed].
The Su-35, and older Su-27 and Su-30 jets already in Indonesian service, cannot share data and are not optimised to operate alongside F-16 fighters or the country’s European built warships.
This issue could potentially be offset, however, if the country is able to integrate Western avionics onto its fighters – much as Algeria has with its Su-30MKA. While Russia has not in the past given permission for such moves by Su-35 clients, it could potentially provide a means to ensure the sale to Indonesia is successful.
While the Indonesian Air Force initially showed an interest in acquiring just 11 Su-35 fighters, further purchases are likely if the performance of the first batch is satisfactory.
Rosoboronexport, Russia’s prime arms exporter, stated to this effect: “Russia can supply Indonesia with the latest Su-35 multipurpose fighters, adapting them as much as possible to the needs of the customer. We are sure that this is the best choice for increasing the combat effectiveness of the Indonesian Air Force.”