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Indonesia closes in on Grumman F-5 Tiger replacement

Jan. 17, 2014 at 2:01 AM   |   Comments

JAKARTA, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Indonesia's Defense Ministry said it is looking at several jet fighters, including Russian, American and Swedish aircraft, as a replacement for its aging Grumman F-5 Tigers.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said he wants to ensure the purchase is part of Indonesia's Strategic Plan II 2015 to 2020, Antara news agency reported.

The ministry has five or six options as a replacement for the Tigers that have been in service for about 30 years.

"We have received proposals from several jet fighter manufacturers for replacing the F-5 Tiger fighter aircraft," Yusgiantoro said.

"We are in the process of evaluating which jet fighter will best suit our requirements, whether the aircraft is from Russia, United States or other countries. I hope the finalized next-generation jet fighter is capable of carrying long-range missiles."

Among the aircraft being evaluated are the Russian Sukhoi Su-35, the American Boeing F-15 Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the Swedish SAAB JAS 39 Gripen, said Gen. Moeldoko, Indonesia's top military commander.

The ministry is looking at buying 16 aircraft, but the type and number of aircraft "depends on Indonesia's financial position," Moeldoko said.

Defense analyst FlightGlobal said its database shows Indonesia operates six F-5Es, as well as three F-model trainers. Its air force also has 10 F-16A/Bs and 16 Su-27/30s in active use.

The purchase of Tiger replacements would be part of a larger upgrade of military capability outlined by Air Chief Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia in October.

Indonesia is aiming to create eight new squadrons of fighter aircraft -- more than 100 aircraft -- by 2024, the Jakarta Globe newspaper reported at the time.

The Globe report also said Yusgiantoro confirmed the air force had received a squadron of 16 supersonic advanced trainer T-50 Golden Eagles -- so-called baby F-16s -- from South Korea at the Iswahyudi Military Air Base in Madiun on Java Island.

The T-50, which can be used as a light fighter, was developed by Korea Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin and is South Korea's first indigenous supersonic aircraft.

Its maiden flight was in 2002 and it entered service with the Korean air force in 2005.

In October, Indonesia also officially received six Russian-made Sukhoi SU-30MK2 fighter aircraft -- the last of a contract for 16 Sukhoi aircraft signed in 2007 that includes pilot training.

Sukhoi sent the aircraft to Indonesia in knocked-down form accompanied by 13 technicians to oversee assembly testing before handing them over to the military.

The Sukhoi fighters are for the air force's Squadron 11 at Hasanuddin Air Base in Makassar, the Globe reported.

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