Indonesia Giving Priority to C-130 Hercules Planes
From 2001-2005, the US State and Defense Departments lobbied for the resumption of US weapons sales to Indonesia, as part of their efforts to secure support against Islamic terrorists. The US Senate refused to lift the ban, which had been put in place after widespread murders and human rights abuses by Indonesia’s military in East Timor. The Senate did, however, give the Secretary of State the power to issue a waiver to the ban, if it was deemed to be in the interests of national security. The US State Department promptly issued that waiver.
At the time, it was speculated that Indonesia’s first priority might be its F-16s, only 4 of which were still flyable. That’s still on the agenda, but a buy of Russian SU-27/30 Flankers has taken some of the urgency away. Instead, in a display of smart politics, Indonesia’s top priority with the USA has been its C-130 Hercules tactical transport fleet. A move that gained impetus after a tragic 2009 crash.
According to Agence France Presse, in 2005 Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said that:
“About 70 percent of next year’s armed forces budget will be allocated to buy more of the C-130 transport planes to bolster six other planes now used for military transport and relief efforts.”
AFP should probably have been alert enough to realize that this meant 70% of this year’s armed forces equipment budget, as most militaries spend 50% of their budget or more (often far more) on personnel and associated expenses.
The C-130s will apparently remain at the top of the priority list for the next 5-10 years. Out of Indonesia’s original fleet of 24 C-130B/H planes, only 6 were still flyable as a result of Age and a long period of embargoed spares. Of those 6 flying aircraft, 3 had only been put back into operation after the State Department issued a May 2005 waiver lifting the ban on military spare parts.
There was no word whether Indonesia’s new aircraft focus would be on the older C-130H models, or on new and more expensive C-130J aircraft with improved performance. Instead, however, the focus seems to be on rehabilitating Indonesia’s existing C-130 fleet.
Contracts & Key Events
Jan 13/11: ARINC Engineering Services, LLC announces a $63.7 million Indonesian Air Force contract to modernize 5 Indonesian C-130Bs. The program includes structural and electronic modifications to retrofit the 30-year-old C-130B airframes with viable modern equipment.
ARINC “won the work in December  in competitive bidding.” Work will be performed by ARINC and selected subcontractors on site at customer facilities in Indonesia, and take place from Q1 2011 to Q3 or Q4 2013.
July 20/10: ARINC Engineering Services, LLC announces a USAF Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract to perform Programmed Depot Maintenance on a C-130H transport used by Indonesia for disaster relief and humanitarian aid. Following a ceremony last week at Halim Air Base near Jakarta, the aircraft departed for the U.S. with a 21-man joint American and Indonesian crew.
ARINC plans to perform the maintenance work at its Aircraft Modification and Operations Center at Oklahoma City, OK, where the company operates the area’s largest commercial hangar. The work is expected to take from 5 to 7 months, depending upon the aircraft’s condition, as determined by a complete inspection. As of January 2011, that work was still continuing.
June 5/10: Indonesian defense minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro tells Reuters that the country is (still) discussing buying 10 more C-130 military transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin, but had not come to any agreement. Reuters | Good News from Indonesia.
May 19/10: A tragic L-100 (C-130H) crash kills 98 people, and places a spotlight on the Indonesian air force’s planes. The aircraft had passed a flight test the day before, then nose-dived into a village and erupted in flames with 110 troops and their families on board.
The plane crashed while attempting to land at an Iswahyudi Air Force Base, on East Java. Survivors said they heard at least 2 loud explosions and felt the transport plane wobbling from left to right as it plummeted to the ground. It lost a wing as it hit some trees, slammed into a row of houses, then skidded 700 yards before landing in a rice field. In the wake of the crash, Indonesian politicians pledge to increase the military’s budget. A Fokker 27 had crashed in western Java in April, killing 24, and another Hercules overshot a runway in Papua on May 10, injuring one. Aviation Safety Network crash report | Aviation Herald | Aviation Week | Cleveland.com | Flight International.