Indonesia Officially Turned Down Russia’s Offer to Buy Su-35

The Air Force’s newest fighter, the F-15EX Eagle II, was revealed and named during a ceremony, April 7, 2021, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The aircraft will be the first Air Force aircraft to be tested and fielded from beginning to end, through combined developmental and operational tests. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Indonesia has officially notified Rosoboronexport its Air Force is no longer interested in buying Russian Su-35 fighter jets and will now decide between the Boeing F-15EX Eagle II and the Dassault Rafale, according to the country’s Air Force chief of staff.

Speaking to media during a gathering at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Base near the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Air Chief Marshal Fadjar Prasetyo said the Southeast Asian nation is seeking a 4.5-generation mediumweight or heavyweight fighter.

He said the narrowing of the choices to the American F-15EX and the French Rafale was made together with the Defense Ministry, adding that Indonesia wants two to three squadrons’ worth of fighter jets, depending on the budget.

Prasetyo also confirmed that it was “with a heavy heart” that Indonesia would abandon its plan to acquire the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E. The country had selected the Russian twin-engine, single-seat fighter in 2015 but never signed a contract for 11 aircraft following negotiations with Russia in 2018.

Indonesia abandoned the Su-35 acquisition due to concern the move could trigger U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The law was passed by Congress in 2017 and is meant to discourage governments or entities from acquiring weapons as well as military hardware and parts from American adversaries like Iran, North Korea and Russia.

Prasetyo noted that if Indonesia chooses the F-15EX, deliveries of the multirole fighter could start as early as 2027.

Any new fighter will serve alongside Indonesia’s existing fleet of refurbished Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcons and Russian Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flankers. The former was previously operated by the U.S. Air Force.

Indonesia is seeking aircraft to meet its increasingly urgent air defense needs.

Indonesia also expressed concerns over military alliance between China and Russia. Buying fighter jets from Russia wouldn’t enable Indonesia put diplomatic and political pressure on China which is creating geopolitical tensions in Southeast Asia.

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