|Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters. The French-made aircraft is targeted by Indonesia, which seems to want to buy it shortly.|
In recent days, French Defense Minister Florence Parly confirmed during a TV interview that the negotiations with Indonesia for the sale of 36 Rafale fighters are "very well advanced". Parly did not mention deadlines, but according to local media, the deal could be finalized by the end of the year.
Indonesia's interest in French multi-role fighters had already emerged at the end of last January, during the visit to Paris by Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto.
During the meeting with Parly and with representatives of the main French defense companies (Dassault, Naval Group, Nexter and Thales), Subianto had laid the foundations for a big deal aimed at strengthening the Indonesian armed forces. It would include 48 Rafales (48 is the quantity disclosed previously), 4 Scorpene-class submarines and 2 Gowind-type corvettes, for a total estimated value of about 25 billion euros.
This interest stems from Indonesia's need to increase its technological superiority against an increasingly aggressive China on the side of the South China Sea.
The French aircraft would fill the capacitive gaps of the 16 Russian Su-27SK/SKM and Su-30MKK/MK2 fighters and the 35 F-16s (12 in the A/B Block 15OCU variant and 23 in the C/D Block 32+), deemed inadequate as a deterrent against China.
The finalization of this agreement would probably cancel Jakarta's previous interest in the purchase of additional Su-35S jets or 32 F-16V Vipers (Block 70/72) as well as 15 second-hand Austrian Eurofighter T1s.
However, the value of the order is very high (about 80 million dollars for each Rafale) and Indonesia does not have large financial resources. Jackarta is well known for the continuous renegotiations of the shares relating to the KF-X program or for the “extravagant” payment proposals to Russia which provided for the supply of raw materials to partially cover the possible contract for further Su-35S. Furthermore, the acquisition of the Rafale would oblige the Indonesian Air Force to carry out a complete overhaul of the equipment and logistic infrastructure as the French aircraft is not compatible with most of its current American and Russian weapons. This budget shortage has in fact led the nation to stop negotiations for brand new aircraft and look to second-hand fighters.
On paper, this deal therefore appears very unlikely despite the many statements confirming the forthcoming signing of the agreement.
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Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: Dassault Aviation/A. Pecchi