Indonesia Adding F-16 Falcon Fighters to Join Flankers
Indonesia’s purchases of Russian SU-27SK and SU-30MKK Flanker-family fighters in 2003 and 2007 got a lot of attention. Now, the country is augmenting those 10 high-end fighters with more advanced models of an older aircraft within its fleet: 24 refurbished F-16s from the USAF.
The F-16 has a checkered history in Indonesia’s TNI-AU. The Indonesian military’s widespread murders and abuses in East Timor led to a 1999 US arms embargo, which created severe maintenance problems with its 12 remaining F-16A/B Block 15s, and its 16 remaining F-5E/F fighters. The US embargo lifted in November 2005, as lingering concerns about human rights accountability were trumped by the needs of a global campaign against Islamic terrorism. Which left Indonesia wondering what to do about its fighter fleet, as its economy picked up speed.
Who Will Flank the Flankers?
The TNI-AU appreciates its Flanker-family fighters, but 10 of them aren’t enough to cover its huge territory. Other platforms in the TNI-AU inventory can help, but they don’t fully solve the problem. Some of its F-16s are back in service, and have been participating in Ausindo exercises with Australia, but they’re very old designs. Keeping the older F-5s running is even more difficult and expensive. The sub-sonic Hawk 209 jets that form the backbone of its fleet are capable light fighters in basic policing roles, but the TNI-AU wanted more.
Indonesia might have moved to solve that problem by adding more Russian Flankers, and it may yet do so. The force appears to want a less expensive option that is capable, and bulks up its numbers.
South Korea’s comparable T-50 Golden Eagle was also an option, and eventually became Indonesia’s advanced trainer buy. For higher-end missions, however, the TA-50 variant isn’t quite up to the capability level Indonesia wanted. The developmental F/A-50 is, but it has Israeli components, and would have trouble meeting the TNI-AU’s desired 2014 delivery date.
The cooperative KF-X development program with South Korea will deliver an F-16 class fighter in future, which will reportedly be based on the FA-50. Those fighters won’t be delivered until 2020 or later, however, so KF-X didn’t solve Indonesia’s short-term problem.
What did solve their problem was an offer from the Americans to augment their remaining F-16s with 24 used and refurbished USAF planes. At the 2011 East Asia Summit, Indonesia accepted.
Contracts & Key Events
Nov 17/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Indonesia’s official request for 24 ex-USAF F-16C/D Block 25 fighters with 28 F100-PW-200 or F100-PW-220E engines. The Pentagon had mentioned improved radar, though radars aren’t mentioned in the DSCA request. They may simply have meant that American F-16C/D block 25 aircraft with AN/APG-68 radars and the MIL-STD-1760 databus offer big improvements over the current F-16 A/B Block 15′s AN/APG-66 radar. The APG-68 radar has better aerial performance, and many more ground and maritime surveillance options. The radar & databus combination also allows the fighters to carry a much wider range of weapons, including medium-range air-to-air missiles and a wider set of ground attack weapons.
All F-16s and engines are being granted from US stocks, along with refurbishment, and:
- Expanded Enhanced Fire Control (EEFC) or Commercial Fire Control, or Modular Mission Computers
- Raytheon Enhance Position Location Reporting Systems (EPLRS)
- Raytheon Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL), for cooperative operations. Works with EPLRS.
- Northrop Grumman LN-260 GPS/INS navigation system (SPS version, non-PPS)
- LAU-129A/A Launchers that can fire AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, something its current F-16s can’t do.
- AN/AAQ-33 Sniper or AN/AAQ-28 LITENING advanced surveillance and targeting pods. Northrop Grumman’s LITENING was invented in Israel, and Islamic countries have all picked Lockheed Martin’s Sniper pod so far.
- ARC-164/186 Radios
- Terma’s AN/ALQ-213 Electronic Warfare Management Systems
- Raytheon’s AN/ALR-69 Radar Warning Receivers
- BAE’s AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser Systems
- Cartridge Actuated Devices/Propellant Actuated Devices (CAD/PAD)
- Plus tools, support and test equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and other U.S. Government and contractor support. At least 30 Indonesian pilots will receive F-16 training in the United States, and mobile training teams from the United States will train Indonesian aircraft maintainers.
A DSCA request is not a contract, and the Pentagon is currently working with the Indonesian Ministry of Defense to develop a letter of offer and acceptance. That’s expected to be done by early 2012, unless Congress actively moves to block the sale. The intent is to begin delivery of aircraft by July 2014, as requested by the government of Indonesia.
The estimated cost is up to $750 million. The USAF’s 309th Maintenance Wing at Hill AFB, UT will refurbish the planes and add any required upgrades, and Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT will handle the engine overhauls. Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Indonesia. US DSCA [PDF] | Pentagon.
- Indonesia – Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara (TNI-AU)
- F-16.net – Indonesia
- DID – Indonesian Air Force Adds More Flankers
- DID – Indonesia Looking for Trainer/Attack Aircraft. It bought EMB-2314 Super Tucanos, then bought KAI T-50s.
- Human Rights Watch (July 22/10) – Indonesia: US Resumes Military Assistance to Abusive Force. They mean Indonesia’s Kopassus special forces.
- DID (Nov 24/05) – State Dept. Issues Waiver, Resumes US Military Sales to Indonesia