04:07 GMT18 June 2021
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    Jakarta is exploring the possibility of buying two squadrons of advanced F-16V Viper fighter jets from Washington, the Indonesian Air Force’s chief of staff said recently. News of the potential deal follows neighbor Taiwan’s purchase of dozens of the jets.

    "Insya Allah [God willing], we will buy two squadrons in the next strategic plan 2020-2024. We will purchase the newest type of Block 72 Viper," Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Yuyu Sutisna stated at the Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase in Pekanbaru on October 28, the country’s state-owned Antara News reported.

    However, with Indonesia having an entire defense budget of just $7.6 billion for FY 2020, it’s unclear where the money could come from. Taiwan’s recent purchase of 66 Vipers set the autonomous island back $8 billion, Sputnik reported. That comes out to $121.2 million per aircraft, including training, support, spare parts, and other accoutrements that Jakarta would likely also require. However, at this stage it’s unclear how many jets they may wish to purchase.

    Defense News noted the Indonesian Air Force already flies the earlier F-16C and D models, which date to the 1990s but were bought from the US Air Force and Air National Guard in 2011.

    The advanced F-16V, which comes from the Block 72 upgrade, is among the latest iterations of an interceptor first introduced in the 1970s and includes an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The General Dynamics-built plane has grown to fill a variety of roles, including ground attack, and served as the standard export fighter to dozens of US allies. 

    Indeed, Yuyu noted that "many countries are using this jet fighter, which proves its reliability."

    The air force chief also noted the country was “in the process of buying jet fighters from the east, the Sukhoi 35.” Sputnik reported in October 2018 that the long-pursued deal could earn Jakarta sanctions from the United States under that country’s Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which elaborates punishments for countries that buy advanced weapons from Russia in an effort to deter them from doing so. However, many nations have balked at the CAATSA threat, deciding that Russian-made jets, air defense systems and other equipment were more valuable.

    Russia will sell 11 of the jets, which are heavily upgraded Su-27s, to Indonesia for $1.154 billion. Indonesia’s Air Force also operates Russian-made Su-27SKs and Su-30MK2s.


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