Indonesia abandons Su-35 purchase plan, seeks greater military cooperation with France to procure Rafale Jet, Scorpene-class submarine and Gowind-class Corvette

Rising concern of CAATSA sanctions if Indonesian buys Su-35 and recent intrusion by Chinese Navy into Indonesian exclusion economic zones, Indonesia turns to France to enhance it’s military capability to deter China venturing into Indonesian littoral zone. Indonesia seeks to achieve technological and qualitative superiority over China which is flexing its muscles in the South China Sea, learnt GDC quoting the Jakarta Post.

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto with his French counterpart Florence Parly in France last week.

The Chinese Navy recently escorted fishing boats around the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea which is part of exclusive economic zone of Indonesia prompting Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto to meet his French counterpart Florence Parly in France last week to discuss an advanced defense cooperation treaty between both nations.

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French Ambassador to Indonesia Corinne Breuzà said that France was open to all cooperation possibilities involving French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation and state-owned aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI).

Indonesian military personnel stand guard near one of seven French Navy Rafale jet fighters parked on the tarmac at Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Base in Aceh Besar, Indonesia

“With the support of the French government, Dassault is open to any possibility of partnerships and transfer technology” she said in a prepared statement.

Other than technology transfer, she said that being 100 percent French, the Rafale would allow its users independence. ‘It is designed with Safran/Snecma for the engine, Thales for the avionics and MBDA for the armament,’ she said.

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The Rafale jet fighters performed three flights for Indonesian Air Force pilots who flew on the Rafale B, taking the back seat.

Indonesia’s Ambassador to France Arrmanatha Nasir said there were plenty of opportunities to increase defense cooperation because the two nations enjoyed good bilateral relations and each had an independent foreign policy.

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During Monday’s meeting, according to Arrmanatha, the two ministers agreed to strengthen their defense cooperation into a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), which is expected to be reached this year and serve as a framework for future defense cooperation.

Now, Indonesia abandons its plan to buy Su-35 and seeks greater military cooperation with France with transfer of technology to Indonesia. Meanwhile, a interim solutions to counter further intrusion and quick delivery of fighter jets, Indonesia is also considering to purchase two squadrons of the Lockheed Martin F-16V Block 72 jets with APG-83 AESA radar.

F-16V Block 72 with APG-83 Radar.

Jakarta is interested in acquiring 48 Rafale fighter jets, four Scorpene-class submarines armed with submarine-launched Exocet antiship missile and two Gowind-class corvettes with anti-air, area-denial and ASW capabilities, French publication LA Tribune said quoting defense ministry of France. The purchases are worth an estimated $25-$28 billion in a potential defense cooperation deal between the two countries to be signed later this year.

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Jakarta and Paris has setup an working group among Naval Group, Dassault Aviation and the Indonesian Air Force and Indonesian Navy to study detailed proposals by France.

Indonesia Seeks Rafale Jets, Submarines, Warships in Defence Cooperation Deal with France
Gowind-class corvette (image: Naval Group)

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto held a bilateral meeting with his French counterpart Florence Parly last Monday besides discussions with French defence firms such as Dassault Aviation, Thales, Naval Group and Nexter. Prabowo expressed hope that the French defense industry could help Indonesia to improve its defense capacity through technology transfers.

“As a country with an advanced defense industry, France can be a strategic partner in Indonesia’s efforts to modernize its weaponry defense system and accelerate the development of our national defense industry. This will support efforts to make the national defense industry a part of the ‘global production chain’. In this context, our defense minister placed special attention on the development of the defense industry when discussing defense cooperation,” a press statement from the Indonesian embassy in Paris said.

If the defense cooperation agreement comes through, Indonesia would quickly initiate the purchases, estimated to be worth an estimated $25 billion through an intergovernmental agreement between France and Indonesia.

France’s Naval Group has proposed sales of the Scorpene-class submarines either off-the-shelf or through a technology transfer (ToT) with the Indonesian group PT PAL.

A Scorpene-class submarine of Indian Navy (Source Naval Group)

‘We are not imposing anything; we are ready for discussion to define what is the optimized scheme of transfer of technology in the framework of the Rafale bid,’ Chabriol said.

Other than technology transfer, Chabriol emphasized that Indonesia would get total independence if it selected the Rafale because, as it is a 100-percent French product, Indonesia would not have to deal with a third party.

Another advantage of buying the Rafale, he added, was that it could be deployed with very minimal logistical support.


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