Indonesia Looking for Trainer/Attack AircraftJul 15, 2012 16:41 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
As natural resources and exports have fueled its economy, Indonesia has been looking to replace its fleets of BAE Hawk Mk.53 trainer jets, and OV-10F Bronco forward air control/ counterinsurgency aircraft, as part of a more general modernization. That competition was split in 2, and Brazil’s EMB-314 Super Tucano appears to be Indonesia’s choice to replace the OV-10s. To replace the British Hawk trainers, Indonesia is turning to another young aerospace power, as South Korea’s supersonic TA-50 offers both training capabilities and air policing punch.
Part of the rationale for these purchases lies in previous weapon buys. In 2007, the Indonesian Air Force purchased Russian SU-27SK and SU-30MKK fighters. The Flankers would supplement and/or replace fleets of American F-16A/B and F-5E/F Tiger II fighters, whose condition was harmed by a long arms embargo imposed in response to widespread repression and genocide in East Timor. New fighters will need new trainers, and light attack/ forward air control/ surveillance aircraft are a high priority for a huge country with pockets of separatist unrest. Step 1 involved securing the budgets to make the buys. Step 2 involved picking from a list of competitors around the globe:
Indonesia: The Replacements
Background to the Buys
The decision to broaden Indonesia’s potential supplier list was a deliberate policy. East Timor became independent in 2002, following years of Indonesian massacres and repression. The American embargo on military supplies to Indonesia was lifted 3 years later, in 2005, in part due to America’s post-9/11 focus on countering Islamic terrorism. Nevertheless, foregone maintenance can have lasting effects on complex equipment, and the embargo experience was firmly etched into Indonesia’s military consciousness. Subsequent incidents, such as the UK’s injunctions against using British-made Scorpion light tanks against a separatist revolt in Aceh province, only deepened the determination of Indonesia’s military and political leaders to deal with a different set of military suppliers.
In the fall of 2007, Indonesia signed a $1B+ defense credit agreement with Russia as the 1st big step under that policy, followed by contracts for Russian arms that included a handful of advanced SU-27/30 fighters.
In January 2010, Indonesian air force commander Air Marshal Imam Sufaat identified 5 contenders for the trainer/ light atack replacement roles, to replace Indonesia’s subsonic OV-10 (16 ordered, 0-8 operational after over 30 years) and Hawk Mk.53 trainer jets (20 ordered in 1980-81, 10 reportedly operational):
- Aero Vodochody’s L-159A/T from Czecheslovakia
- Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 Master from Italy
- Russia’s Yakovlev Yak-130, which emerged from the same joint project as the M-346
- Chengdu’s FTC-2000 from China; and
- Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin’s T-50 family.
Indonesia’s economy has performed well in recent years, as commodity prices rose, and the TNI-AU budget has received extra funds as a result. Nevertheless, Sufaat’s comments that even contenders like China’s FTC-2000 were expensive could push those very same aircraft into the F-5′s roles as well, in an attempt to extract maximum value from limited dollars. Some of the available trainer designs are capable of handling fighter roles at comparable performance levels to the F-5, and the shrinkage of Indonesia’s front-line combat fleet makes a large array of single-focus trainers a poor complement. Subsequent events would highlight the focus on versatility.
That still left the trainer contract to replace the 10 existing Hawk 53 jets, which serve alongside more advanced Hawk 109 two-seat trainers (8), and single-seat Hawk 209 light attack aircraft (29-30). The new TNI-AU chief added that the service also planned to replace its 16 Northrop F-5E/F Tiger fighters (believed to have 5-6 operational) by 2013.
South Korea’s T-50/ TA-50/ F/A-50 family of supersonic trainers and lightweight fighters has been growing, expanding from the T-50 Golden Eagle trainer to the armed TA-50, and soon to a full F/A-50 lightweight fighter. These Korean Aerospace Industries planes were developed as a joint effort with Lockheed Martin, and are powered by GE’s popular, proven F404 engine, which also equips serving fighters like the American F/A-18A-D Hornets, Swedish JAS-39A-D Gripens, and India’s Tejas LCA. The T-50 family sits at the high end of the trainer market, but the TA-50 and F/A-50 variants can act as improved successors to Indonesia’s F-5 lightweight fighters.
Indonesia appears to have chosen the TA-50, an advanced trainer that can be pressed into air policing or light attack roles. Reports indicate possible future interest in the coming F/A-50 fighter variant, though Indonesia has already signed on for long-term co-operation on South Korea’s slightly higher-end KF-X fighter project.
Other contenders involved designs from around the world.
The Czech Republic has been trying to sell up to 47 of its L-159 light attack aircraft on the global market. This improved variant of the incredibly popular L-39 Albatros advanced jet trainer was developed as a low-cost single-seat fighter with fully modernized electronics, and full NATO weapons and communication compatibility. They filled an important stopgap role as the Czech air force transitioned from a Soviet client to a full NATO member, but budget issues have left the Czechs looking to sell over half of their fleet. A 2-seat trainer conversion has been developed as part of that sales effort.
The Yak-130 was developed as a joint project by Alenia Aermacchi, and Russia’s Yakolev Design Bureau. The partners ended up going their separate ways, fielding 2-seat aircraft with similar visual lines, but different internal equipment and capabilities. By 2006, the Yak-130 had beaten the MiG-AT and Sukhoi’s S-54 to be selected as Russia’s next advanced jet trainer. It has also been sold to Algeria, and there were reports that Libya had 6 on order before that country descended into civil war.
While Alenia’s M-346 Master emphasizes its role as an advanced trainer and aerobatic jet, and has not demonstrated attack capabilities, the similar Yak-130 can be heavily armed for air policing patrol, or counter-insurgency/ ground attack missions. Its NIIP Zhukovsky Osa radar offers adequate performance, and its 8 hardpoints can carry up to 3,000 kg/ 6,600 pounds of weapons. These reportedly include Western equipment like AIM-9L/Magic 2 short-range air-air missiles (SRAAM) and AGM-65 Maverick precision strike missiles; as well as Russian weapons like the advanced R-73/ AA-11 Archer SRAAM, a Platan targeting pod, the Vhikr and KH-25ML laser guided missiles, the KAB-500Kr guided bomb, 23mm or 30mm gun pods, or rockets and unguided bombs. The Yak-130 is powered by a pair of AI-222-25 or Povazske Strojarne DV-2SM (export option) turbofans.
The Yak-130 offers similar capabilities to Indonesia’s 8 existing Hawk 109 trainers, and may be actually more comparable to its 29 single-seat Hawk 209 light attack aircraft. Unlike the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara’s (TNI-AU, Indonesia’s air force) 20 Hawk Mk.53 trainers, which were ordered in 1980-81 and reportedly have few operational planes left, these 1990s-era Hawk attack fleets remain operational, and are expected to remain in service with the TNI-AU.
China National Guizhou Aviation Industry’s JiaoLian-9, known as FTC-2000 Shanying (Mountain Eagle) when exported, is derived from China’s JJ-7 trainer. Which was, in turn, derived from Russian 2-seat MiG-21s. Visible enhancements include a raised cockpit that greatly improves visibility for both pilots, a correspondingly larger dorsal “spine”, a cranked delta wing to improve handling characteristics, and moving the engine intake from the plane’s nose to a pair of small side intakes.
The JL-9 uses a Chinese WP-13 or WP-14 turbojet engine, and carries Chinese electronics, and weapons. It reportedly packs an internal 23mm cannon, and has 5 stores stations that can carry up to 2,000 kg/ 4,400 pounds of fuel tanks, short-range air-air missiles, or rocket launders and unguided bombs. Its derivation from the MiG-21 gives it questionable suitability as a ground attack aircraft, but they could be used effectively for secondary air policing, especially if equipped with SELEX Galileo’s Grifo S7 radar. In August 2010, however, reports seemed to indicate that the JL-9 and M-346 had been dropped from Indonesia’s competition.
The Split: OV-10 Replacement
In late January 2010, Indonesian air force commander Air Marshal Imam Sufaat made it clear that Indonesia had split the competition, designating Embraer’s EMB-314 Super Tucano turboprop from Brazil as the preferred replacement for their OV-10s. Subsequent contracts have ordered 16 of these planes.
While Indonesia could have made a unified choice to replace its OV-10 FAC light attack and Hawk Mk53 trainer fleets with a multi-role jet, the demands of forward air control and counterinsurgency wars give slower and more stable platforms an advantage. The USA’s A-10 Thunderbolt/Warthog is Exhibit A in this respect, but it is no longer in production. Propeller-driven options are emerging as the preferred choices beyond the USAF, and Embraer’s EMB-314 Super Tucano trainer/ FAC/ light attack turboprop has built a strong global lead with sales to its home country of Brazil (99), as well as Colombia (25), Chile (12), the Dominican Republic (8), and Ecuador (18). Indonesia chose it as well, and interest has even been reported in US SOCOM, and in Britain.
One potential wrinkle for the predominantly Islamic country of Indonesia could involve the fact that to date, the aircraft has been produced with a dedicated avionics and weapons management suite from Israeli firm Elbit Systems, via its Brazilian subsidiary AEL. Indonesia could decide that the general Islamic boycott of the Jewish state doesn’t apply, on the grounds that the equipment is in fact from Brazil. It could also decide to order the plane with an avionics and weapons management suite from a different manufacturer, such as Rockwell Collins or Thales. If their choice hasn’t already been integrated and tested in the Super Tucano, however, the need to take those steps would likely increase the cost of their order.
It isn’t entirely clear which path Indonesia chose.
Indonesia did have other options, beyond the Super Tucano.
One option would involve defaulting to a common replacement jet for the Hawks and OV-10s. Another would involve work with a foreign country like China or South Korea to modify an existing aircraft as their OV-10 replacement. A 3rd involves buying a ready-made Super Tucano alternative.
Switzerland’s Pilatus reportedly chose not to offer its aircraft to Indonesia, but propeller-driven FAC/COIN options already in the market include Hawker Beechcraft’s AT-6B (modified T-6 trainer, in development), and the cheaper, sturdier AC-802u Air Tractor (modified and armored crop duster/ firefighter). Both are American products.
Korea’s KA-1 Woong Bee armed derivative of its KT-1 trainer is reportedly in limbo, but a Jan 26/10 release cast doubt on those reports. Indonesia has reportedly already bought some KT-1s as pure trainers, which made the KA-1 a strong joint development or purchase option.
In the end, however, the Super Tucano won as Indonesia’s OV-10 Replacement.
Contracts and Key Events
“Indonesia’s deputy defense minister, Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, told Aviation Week in April that his government hoped to persuade Embraer to assemble Super Tucanos at state-owned Indonesian Aerospace (IAe); the aircraft could then be sold to Indonesia and other Asia-Pacific countries. However, Embraer has not agreed to this proposal. [secretary general of defense, Air Marshal Eris Herryanto] says the offset work that has been secured involves the manufacturing of some ground-based equipment and tools needed to support the type in Indonesia.”
Enbraer correctly sees other opportunities for the Super Tucano in the region. IAe doesn’t bring enough added leverage to make sharing that work worthwhile, and neither does a 16-plane order. Indonesia hopes to add more leverage in future, by changing industrial offset rules from an informal practice to a law passed by Parliament. Embraer | Aviation Week.
July 10/12: More Super Tucanos. Indonesia orders a 2nd set of 8 Super Tucano aircraft, along with a full flight simulator. This brings their order total to 16.
In August 2012, Indonesia will receive the first 4 airplanes from the initial batch of 8 aircraft ordered in November 2010. Deliveries of the 2nd batch of Super Tucanos are scheduled for 2014. Embraer.
Super Tucano option
May 26/11: If KAI seemed to jump the gun on the Indonesia announcement, there may be a clear motive. The Korea Exchange has just approved an IPO for the firm to go public, which is expected to raise around $525 million in cash for the firm. Announcing the sale just ahead of that approval is permissible, and has the effect of boosting the expected asking price. Woori Investment & Securities, and Hyundai Securities, will manage the deal. Reuters | Wall St. Journal.
May 25/11: Well, that was fast. KAI executive VP Enes Park is quoted as saying that The Indonesian Defense Ministry has signed a $400 million deal for 16 jets – or $25 million per plane, which is not the deep discount deal touted earlier.
Aviation Week says that the contract reportedly involves a T-50 with a gun and weapon pylons (i.e. TA-50 variant, designated T-50i), and numerous reports add that the aircraft must be delivered within 18 months of a financing agreement between the South Korean and Indonesian governments. On the other hand, reports from Indonesia quote senior air force officials, who say that the plan to buy the T-50s is still under discussion in the Defense Ministry. KAI | Jakarta Globe | Chosun Ilbo | Korea Times | JoongAbng Daily || Aviation Week | Defense News | Flight International | UPI.
May 20/11: T-50 negotiations. In the wake of an ROK-Indonesian agreement to expand economic and industrial cooperation via a joint secretariat, and reports that KAI has been designated as Indonesia’s preferred trainer jet bidder, Indonesia’s Amir Sambodo suggests that Indonesia might buy 16 T-50 family jets, in exchange for 4 or more additional CN-235 aircraft bought from Indonesia’s Digiranta.
Reports have also quoted KAI CEO Kim Hong-kyung, who has said that Indonesia would receive T-50s “much cheaper” than its $20-25 million price tag. “We asked our suppliers to lower the costs of manufacturing T-50 spare parts, and based on those efforts, we offered a per-unit price far lower than standard price.” The proper response to a statement like that is extreme skepticism; there are limits to what supply chain efficiencies of that sort can achieve. If the price reduction really is a deep cut, it’s far more likely that a combination of government subsidies and barter is involved.
Barter would be a good option for Indonesia, as well. Financing has been a hang-up for recent military deals there, and South Korea does fly 12 CN-235 variants made by Digiranta (6 CN-235-220 transports, 2 CN-235 VVIP, and 4 CN-235-110 Coast Guard), alongside 12 CN-235-100 transports made by EADS-CASA in Spain. Indonesia’s Coordinating Economic Minister, Hatta Rajasa, said in his opening remarks at the bilateral meeting that South Korea “has expressed interest in adding more CN-235 planes.” South Korea badly need an export launch customer for its T-50, and Indonesia needs jets that are capable of air policing duties as well as training roles. Jakarta Post | Defense News. See also Aug 9/10 entry.
April 12/11: LIFT – T-50. The Indonesian government sends a letter to KAI, designating the South Korean firm as the preferred bidder to replace Indonesia’s BAE Systems Hawk 53s. Source.
Nov 11/10: EMB-314. Indonesia signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Embraer at the Indo Defense 2010 exhibition in Jakarta. Indonesia will order 8 EMB-314 Super Tucanos at first, with an option for another 8 on the same terms. The first Super Tucanos will arrive in 2012, and the order also includes ground-support stations and a logistics package. Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro added that state aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia would be used for maintenance work, and they also hoped Digiranta would wind up manufacturing some parts and components. Embraer | Jakarta Post | Aviation Week | Flight International | MSN Malaysia | UPI.
Super Tucano deal
Nov 11/10: F-16s? Indonesia is considering some F-16 related requests that could be complementary to its light attack plane buy, or could compete with it, depending on what kind of funds are made available. Deals under consideration include a $150 million mid-life upgrade and repairs to its 10 Lockheed Martin F-16A/Bs, a 2nd buy of fully modern F-16C/D Block 50/52s to bring the squadron up to full strength, and a reported American offer of 24 cheap, used F-16 Block 25/30s from USAF stocks.
These deals could wind up being parallel buys, but Indonesia has limited finances. Its government could decide that with the Super Tucanos in hand, a force of multi-role fighters is a better option than trainer/light attack aircraft, until its KF-X partnership with South Korea produces an F-16 Block 50-60 equivalent successor by about 2025. Alternatively, it could stick to its declared priorities, and decide it can’t afford to upgrade and maintain more F-16s. There have been some rumbles to that effect already, but a decision is still pending.
If the F-16 mid-life upgrade takes place, it will extend their service life from 4,000 to 8,000 flight hours, and modernize them to F-16 Block 40-50 capability. Each aircraft would reportedly require a year of work to finish modernization, with the batch work to be conducted in Indonesia using kits provided by Lockheed. Flight International | Jakarta Post | UPI | China’s Xinhua press agency.
Aug 9/10: LIFT Finalists. Air Forces Monthly reports that Indonesia’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration has narrowed its 16 plane advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft order to the Czech Aero L-159B, South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle, and Russia’s Yak-130. That leaves both Alenia’s M346 Master and China’s JL-9/FTC-2000 out in the cold.
Interestingly, the common denominator for the 2 eliminated types is poor secondary ground attack capabilities.
April 22/10: Super Tucano. Flight International reports that Indonesia’s air force still wants 8 Super Tucanos, with an option for more. What’s holding up the deal is the need for approval from the defence ministry, which is “conducting its own technical evaluation.”
Indonesia also has a history of individuals conducting private financial evaluations for defense purchases, which include private gain. It is not possible to say whether that is a factor in this deal.
Jan 26/10: Super Tucano preferred. The Jakarta Post quotes Indonesian Air Force Chief Marshal Imam Sufaat, who says that Embraer’s EMB-314 Super Tucano trainer/ FAC/ light attack aircraft as “the suitable and affordable choice” to replace their aged OV-10 Broncos: “We have proposed the purchase to the government with the hope that they will grant the funds.” He declined to mention aircraft numbers or budgets. If OV-10 replacement funds are approved this time, a firm contract can be signed with the Brazilians.
On the other hand, Investe Sao Paulo reported in October 2009 that Indonesia had already signed a contract for 8 Super Tucanos. See Oct 16/09 entry.
Meanwhile, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto was quoted as saying that Indonesia was looking into the possibility of buying weapon systems, including warplanes, from China, and forging bilateral cooperation in weapon systems development.
This has obvious implications for the Hawk Mk53 trainer replacement effort, and could affect Indonesia’s FAC/COIN aircraft efforts if the Super Tucano sale falls through for some reason.
Jan 14/10: Competition. Flight International reports that Indonesia’s military is about to renew a request for funds to finance its purchase of trainer and attack aircraft. The service submitted requests to replace its OV-10s in 2008, and 20 Hawks in 2009, but the government did not approve the budgets. A faster-than-expected economic recovery may offer a new opportunity, and Indonesian air force commander Air Marshal Imam Sufaat has reportedly said that the OV-10 replacement has been approved, while the Hawk replacement remains under discussion.
Nov 13/09: Budgets & Competition. The Jakarta Post quotes newly sworn-in Indonesian Air Force chief of staff Vice Marshal Imam Safaat, who says that Russian Yak-130s and Chinese FTC-2000s would replace Indonesia’s 20 remaining British Hawk Mk.53 trainer jets, and American OV-10 Bronco turboprops.
At this point, this is pre-budget intent, and not a contract. The age of Indonesia’s Hawk and Bronco fleets, and the importance of training, will add urgency to this request. Imam said that these aircraft are “expensive” and would be bought with the help of foreign aid. The new TNI-AU chief reportedly added that the service also plans to replace its 16 F-5E/Fs by 2013.
Indonesia’s economy has performed well in recent years, and the TNI-AU budget is expected to increase by 25%-75% over the next year, adding $105-320 million. Nevertheless, a verdict that even the Yak-130 and FTC-2000 are expensive could suggest these very aircraft for the F-5′s roles. Both designs are capable of handling those roles at comparable performance levels, and the shrinkage of Indonesia’s front-line combat fleet makes a large array of single-focus trainers a dubious proposition, unless ample money is available for more front-line fighters as well. The flip side of that choice is that beyond the Yak-130′s strong close air support capabilities, these 2 choices would not be competitive with modern fighters.
Alternatively, Indonesia could cast a wider net, and look to purchase both replacement trainers, and low-budget dedicated fighters like the Chinese/Pakistani JF-17 Thunder, India’s Tejas, or South Korea’s TA-50 Golden Eagle to replace its F-5s. A more ambitious effort might even examine higher-end lightweight fighters like the Russian MiG-29/35, Chinese J-10, or the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen flown by nearby Thailand. Of these lightweight fighter choices, the Russian MiG-29/35 and Chinese JF-17 or J-10 are the only options that would be immune to future western military sanctions. All of the other choices currently fly with General Electric turbofan engines, and are slated to continue using western designs.
Oct 16/09: Super Tucanos? Investe Sao Paulo reports that Embraer has closed the sale of 8 Super Tucano aircraft to the Air Force of Indonesia:
“The information was disclosed yesterday by the Air Force commander, Brigadier Juniti Saito, during the certification event for the VSB-30 sub-orbital rocket and the test of the engine of the VS-40 sounding rocket, at the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology (DCTA, in Portuguese) in Sao Jose dos Campos. Asked by Valor [Economico], Embraer informed through its spokesperson it would not make any announcements on the operation.”
July 23/07: OV-10s grounded. The Indonesian Air Force grounds its remaining OV-10F Bronco fleet, following a fatal accident earlier that day near the Abdurahman Saleh Airport in the East Java town of Malang. It was the 2nd OV-10 accident in 2 years. Asked if the Air Force would replace all the Broncos with new planes, the chief said “yes, there is such a plan.” China’s Xinhua.
- Indonesia – Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara (TNI-AU)
- DID – Korea’s T-50 Spreads Its Wings
- Air Force Technology – T-50 Golden Eagle Jet Trainer and Light Attack Aircraft, South Korea
- Embraer – Super Tucano
- Air Force Technology – EMB-314 Super Tucano / ALX Trainer / Light Attack Aircraft, Brazil
- DID – Indonesia’s Air Force Adds More Flankers. Advanced SU-27/30 fighters. Note also the issues with payments, and how they affected negotiation and delivery.
- The Northrop F-5 Enthusiast Page – Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara. Indonesian Air Force
- DID – Indonesia Giving Priority to C-130 Hercules Planes
- DID (Sept 9/07) – Indonesia Signs $1B+ Defense Credit Agreement With Russia.
- DID (July 7/06) – Indonesia’s Blogging Defense Minister
- DID (Nov 24/05) – State Dept. Issues Waiver, Resumes US Military Sales to Indonesia
- Jakarta Post (March 12/05) – Military to up spending to modernize equipment. The story implies that up to 50% of past weapon buy costs were lost to corruption.