Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab has joined the bidding process to supply fighter jets to the Indonesian Air Force, which wants to replace its fleet of obsolete F-5s.
“We are absolutely prepared to work with the local industry ... so we can support the end-user and work with the local defense industry in the country,” Dan-Ake Enstedt, head of Saab Asia Pacific, told the Jakarta Globe.
According to Enstedt, Saab's winning advantage is a guaranteed delivery time of 12 months. He also said that the Gripen is an extremely reliable multirole fighter with an ability to deploy quickly and land easily in any location.
“For us, it is important to build competence with the local people in the country. We are creating a lot of jobs with our concept, and this is something our competitor does not do. Those are a few things that make our proposal unique," Enstedt said.
The Gripen jets can carry Meteor air-to-air missiles that can hit targets within a 100-kilometer range, but can also used for surveillance tasks. The Swedes claim that the Gripen's operational costs are just $4,700 per hour — allegedly ten times cheaper than the Sukhoi SU-35 or Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor.
The Jakarta Globe was not immediately able to independently verify those claims.
"Gripen can meet every operational requirement that Indonesia faces and it is the most combat effective solution for Indonesia," Enstedt said.
Saab said it was also committed to transfer technological know-how if the Indonesian side would be willing to buy the Gripen. "I think we have a unique strategy. We don't work with 'black boxes,' we really walk the talk," said Enstedt, adding that Saab was ready to partner with local aircraft manufacturer Dirgantara Indonesia.
Saab's Gripen is currently competing against the Russian-made Sukhoi SU-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is built by a conglomerate of three European companies. The Indonesian Defense Ministry wants to buy ten fighter jets to replace the Air Force's F-5 Tiger squadron.
The Indonesian Military (TNI) and the Defense Ministry are currently reviewing the options.
Former Air Force chief Chappy Hakim, now a defense analyst, says the Indonesian Navy has been reinforced but still needs support from the Air Force to be able to secure the country's coastlines and border areas.
"Even though its rather late to provide the military with an additional budget to the military," Chappy said, "we still need to strengthen our defense."