Indonesian PM Joko Widodo finds his homeland added to the list of other nations currently being sandwiched between a potential conflict between the United States and China.
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Having already been left at the mercy of Beijing, Jakarta has been seen flexing its muscle to reinforce its air force squadrons to keep a check on its boundaries for threats.
However, with the Pentagon refusing to part away with its prestigious F-35 stealth jets which had attracted the interest of Indonesia, Widodo has finally realized that he cannot count on the US for help and will need to look for alternatives elsewhere even if it ends up angering whoever is in power after the US elections.
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According to reports, Indonesia has its hearts set on returning to buying the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia after seeing the doors to the F-35 closed by Washington.
Jakarta was reportedly planning to acquire eleven Su-35 fighter jets in a deal worth $1.1 billion before it decided to act against it after facing immense pressure from Washington, as the US compelled the country to part away from the deal in an effort to counter its top rivals from dismantling the US’s defense supremacy.
Following the development, senior Indonesian defense officials were reported to have inquired about the availability of the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets, which are considered to be the most advanced fighters on the planet.
However, according to the Indonesian Ambassador to the United States, Muhammad Lutfi, the Pentagon has refused to talk about the F-35s until the time Jakarta goes ahead with the purchase of its F-16 fighter jets.
“So there are platforms we have to work on to get the F-35. We must have 4th generation fighters. We must have F-16 fighters,”
In the near future the United States will come to Indonesia with a proposal to purchase a batch of F-16 fighters.” said Lutfi. However, it seems like the Southeast Asian nation has had enough from Washington, which had also pressed Jakarta to cancel talks with China to procure several naval patrol vessels worth about $200 million.
Indonesia will now move ahead with its plan to acquire the mighty Russian fighters, this is according to a defense analyst, who while speaking to an aviation news agency, Avia Pro.
“The Americans asked for it themselves. Why do we need American F-16s if we can easily buy Russian Su-35s, which are even more deadly than the F-35s? We did everything we could, but the Americans refused to sell their planes to us – now it’s Washington’s problem,”
The Su-35, which goes by the reporting name of Flanker-E, is a single-seat, twin-engine, supermaneuverable aircraft that has been designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau and built by the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant.
If Indonesia ends up finally buying the Russian combat planes, they might actually prove to be a better deal for the country than the US F-35s.
According to a US Air Force official who had experience on the F-35s says that Su-35 could pose a serious challenge to their American counterparts, as the F-35 does not have the sheer speed or altitude capability of the Su-35.
“The SU’s ability to go high and fast is a big concern, including for the F-35s,” said the Air Force official.
While the F-35 can operate in the 30,000-ft range at speeds around Mach 0.9, the Su-35s on the other hand can launch its weapons from high supersonic speeds around Mach 1.5 at altitudes greater than 45,000 ft.
According to a U.S. Navy Super Hornet pilot, who is a graduate of that service’s elite TOPGUN School, the Su-35 is a superior plane to all aircraft including the F-35s apart from the F-22 and F-15s.
“When taken as a singular platform, I like the Su-35’s chances against most of our platforms, with perhaps the exception of the F-22 and F-15C,” said the pilot.