The race is still on for the Indonesian Air Force’s (TNI-AU) F-5E fighter replacement programme. Despite the air force expressing strong interest in the Sukhoi Su-35 as early as September 2015, a deal is yet to be inked.Saab, Lockheed Martin, Sukhoi and Eurofighter are still hopeful of a shot at the deal estimated to be worth around $1.5 billion to replace 11 Northrop Grumman F-5E Tiger IIs acquired in 1980.
The country wishes the first aircraft to be delivered within 12-18 months of contract signing.
Indonesia’s Defence Industry Law requires foreign investors to fully engage with local industry, which could entail technology transfer or developing indigenous capabilities. Indonesian firms have to own at least 51% of any joint projects.
Saab hopes to market the Gripen C/D whilst riding success stories from the Czech Republic and Hungary where both air forces leased and then eventually bought the platform. Similarly in Brazil, the air force there will develop its own variant of the Gripen with Saab’s assistance.
‘We want to deliver a sovereign independent capability,’ said Rob Hewson, head of communications at Saab Asia-Pacific, at a media brief in July. Saab is also looking to offer a wider air defence package including ground-based radars and defence systems like the RBS 70NG.
Eurofighter expressed in 2015 that it is ready to set up an assembly line in Bandung, Indonesia.
The TNI-AU currently operates a squadron of Su-27SK/Su-30MKK fighters as well as receiving refurbished ex-USAF Lockheed Martin F-16 C/D Block 25 aircraft (known as Block 52ID).
It will be interesting to see how the TNI-AU evaluates its choices between currently operated platforms against attractive new packages.