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Indo Defence 2016: Fighters Front and Centre

Fighter aircraft dominating Indo Defence 2016

Fighter aircraft dominate several of the larger exhibits at Indo Defence 2016 taking place in Jakarta this week, reflecting two major Indonesian Air Force requirements that continue to shape local and international industry responses.

PT Dirgantara Indonesia and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) are emphasising the continuing development work on the KF-X/IF-X so called “4.5 generation” fighter intended to serve with the air forces of both nations. Indonesia has a 20% stake in the programme and is actively pursuing further workshare in both development and eventual production phases of the programme, sources close to both national industries confirmed to Mönch at the show. With potential quantities of 120 for Korea and 80 for Indonesia, the programme is aimed at producing a combat aircraft with better stealth capabilities than a Lockheed Martin KF-16 by 2020, with procurement intended for the 2023-2030 timeframe, according to industry sources.

The programme to replace Indonesia’s ageing F-5 TIGER aircraft, meanwhile, continues to attract interest. Eurofighter suggested over a year ago that it could establish a local assembly line for the TYPHOON, if selected and Saab is not only proposing GRIPEN for the requirement but is coupling the offer with one for the GLOBALEYE surveillance platform, encompassing a wider integrated air defence requirement. Lockheed Martin has offered the F-16V, a variant that has the SABR e-scan radar and, possibly, the benefits of local production. This last issue is far from certain, but Mönch understands that – should India become an F-16 manufacturing nation, as is currently a possibility under negotiations recently reported elsewhere in these pages – one of the early regional recipients of deliveries could well be Indonesia. This does little, however, for Indonesian ambitions for enhancing its defence industrial base.

Also on offer for the F-5 replacement programme is the Sukhoi Su-35 which, when originally offered, received strong support from inside the Indonesian Air Force, according to media reports at the time. Pressed for comments during Indo Defence, however, officials would not be drawn regarding current technical and commercial evaluation processes.

Tim Mahon


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