French Rafale jets, Eurofighter Typhoons and Russian SU-35s could be competing for Indonesian defence contracts. The Indonesian defence minister made quite some headlines recently when he indicated that Jakarta wants to buy the entire fleet of Eurofighter Typhoons from Austria.
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JakartaPost citing Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported that Indonesian defence minister Prabowo Subianto had sent a letter to his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner offering to purchase the country’s entire fleet of 15 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.
According to reports, the letter was dated July 10 and arrived at the Austrian Defense Ministry late last week, Die Presse reported. The Austrian Defense Ministry, however, declined to comment on the Indonesian offer, the newspaper said.
“As I was always impressed by European technologies and know-how, I would kindly ask your support for the following proposal, which hopefully leads to a mutual benefit for our two countries,” the Indonesian defence minister reportedly wrote in the letter.
There has been no official confirmation from the Defense Ministry on the factuality of the communique, though it is compatible with Die Presse’s report. The Indonesian minister was referring to information he received from someone named WD Grosse that Austria had acquired 15 Eurofighter Typhoon jets in 2002.
“To achieve my target of modernizing the Indonesian Air Force, I would, therefore, like to propose to enter into official deliberation with you, your Excellency, on purchasing all 15 Eurofighter Typhoons from Austria for the Air Force of the Republic of Indonesia,” Prabowo reported had written.
Die Presse, however, said that selling Eurofighter Typhoons to Indonesia would be complex, as it needed approval from the four countries i.e. Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
Earlier, there were reports that Indonesia wanted to acquire Dassault Rafale jets following Prabowo’s visit to France in January. French newspaper La Tribune reported that Indonesia was interested in procuring 48 Rafale jet fighters, besides two Scorpene submarines and two Gowind corvettes.
Both – Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale actually began as projects among the France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK to build a common European jet fighter in the late 1970s before France decided to develop one on its own in 1985 due to differences in technical requirements.
Besides a deep interest in Rafale Jets and Eurofighter Typhoons, Indonesia is also stuck with its $1.1 billion contract to buy 11 Su-35 Flanker-E from Russia due to financial complications and the possibility of US sanctions under CAATSA.
Meanwhile, neighbouring India also signed a deal with France to buy Rafale jets over Eurofighter Typhoons and other aircraft in the fray. The Modi government’s decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France for 7.87 billion Euros was also determined by the fact that it could easily carry a nuclear payload.
One of the most crucial reasons why India selected the Rafale over the Eurofighter Typhoon was that the French were accepting the idea that the Rafale would become a part of India’s nuclear triad.
One reason for the political decision in favour of France’s Rafale was because the French had no problem with the Rafale being modified to carry a nuclear payload while India was not so sure about the Eurofighter Typhoons as any modifications would need the approval of four countries, which would have been complicated and Germany had a strong non-proliferation record.