Indonesia abandons Russian Su-35, ignores U.S. F-15ID, buys French Rafale, funding may be the key

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

Indonesia, which abandoned the Russian Su-35 fighters, received the approval of the U.S. State Department for the supply of American F-15ID fighters while signing a contract for the purchase of French Rafale fighters.

Two reports regarding Indonesian fighter jet purchases appeared almost simultaneously a day ago. First, French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweets that Indonesia is buying 42 Rafale multirole fighters. A few hours later, the U.S. Defense Cooperation Agency published a message that the State Department has approved the sale of 36 F-15 fighters to Indonesia.

While the United States was serving the notice of a possible sale of F-15 fighters to Congress for approval, the French had already signed the contract. The agreement was signed in Jakarta and signed by Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier and Air Vice Marshal Yusuf Jauhari, head of the Defense Facilities Agency of the Indonesian Defense Ministry.

The French say that the contract includes the supply of 42 Rafale F4 fighters, pilot training, logistical support for several Indonesian air bases, and the creation of a training centre. The contract is worth 8.1 billion dollars. The preliminary contract proposed by the Americans for the supply of 36 F-15ID fighters and related equipment is approximately $13.9 billion.

According to Agence France-Presse, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto said on Thursday that the country had signed a contract to acquire “the first six” fighter jets and will then receive the remaining 36.

As previously stated by the Indonesian Ministry of Defense, it was planned to purchase 36 French Rafale fighters and eight American F-15EXs between 2021 and 2024.

(Also read – Why did Indonesia cancel the purchase of Su-35 fighters and opt for F-15EX or French Rafale?)

Did the French win the contract by funding the deal?

The French might have bagged the contract by taking a leaf out of the Russian tactics in the military-technical cooperation market. For Su-35’s, Indonesia, lacking financial resources, had planned to pay the Russians with local goods, mainly palm oil.

The Russians claim that Elysee Palace gave guarantees for the Indonesians to obtain a loan from French banks to purchase Rafale fighters and modify the planes to customer’s requirements taking into account local needs. Previously, only Russia could afford to fulfil these needs.

Rafale to replace F-5E/F Tiger II

In 2015, Indonesia chose the Su-35S to replace its ageing F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft. In 2018, Russia and Indonesia signed a contract to supply 11 aircraft, which they planned to hand over to the customer a year later. In October 2018, sources said deliveries would be delayed due to U.S. sanctions.

Rafale- Underdog to best-selling 4++ generation fighters

Rafale was an outsider in the global fighter aircraft market a few years ago – modern but costly and small-scale production. France could produce no more than 12-15 planes per year. In addition, the manufacturing company Dassault Aviation categorically refused to change anything in its product at the customer’s request.

In 2015, India blundered by purchasing 36 Rafales instead of 126 ready to be signed, due to domestic politics. However, it was a big win for Dassault, and the company agreed to modifications as per the Indian requirements. The contract between Paris and New Delhi is estimated at $8.8 billion.

In April 2021, Egypt announced the purchase of 30 French Rafales. Before this, the country was already operating 24 Rafales. The purchase cost, including helicopters and weapons for fighters, was 3.75 billion euros. Then came Greece, which ordered 18 Rafales for 2.32 billion euros. Qatar plans to purchase additional batches of aircraft of this type for 6.3 billion euros.

The United Arab Emirates has already signed a “historic” contract for 80 Dassault Rafale F4 multirole fighters. The agreement includes the purchase of 12 Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal multipurpose helicopters. The contract’s total value for Rafale aircraft and helicopters is about 17 billion euros, including 16 billion euros for Rafale fighters (about 2 billion euros for the supply of aviation weapons), which makes it the largest in the history of French defense exports. Rafale is offered even to Ukraine.

Indonesia plans to buy two submarines from France

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and French Defense Minister Florence Parly signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase Scorpene-class submarine for the Indonesian Navy, reports SINDOnews on February 10.

“We have signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation in the field of research and development of submarines between PT PAL and Naval Group from France, which will certainly lead to the purchase of two Scorpene submarines,” Prabowo Subianto said.

The report said that Indonesia plans to purchase two French-made diesel-electric submarines for the fleet’s needs.


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