Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Defense Ministry will ask state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT DI to build combat helicopters to add to the fleet of eight Apache AH-64s the government is to purchase from the United States, said a minister.
“We need one squadron of helicopters, or 16 units. The government will buy eight Apache AH-64s for the Army. This is only half of the need. So, we need a combination,” Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said here on Saturday.
He cited, as an example, Indonesia`s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadron, which includes a combination of domestically made drones.
The minister expressed his hope that PT DI would build combat helicopters with specifications similar to the US-made Apache.
Purnomo noted that he had sent Ministry of Defense Secretary General Budiman to the United States to study the detailed specifications of the assault Apache helicopters.
“The technological specifications of the helicopters should be clear. We should know the specifications of the planes that we will purchase,” the minister said.
He noted that the weapons system of a combat helicopter would determine its cost. A combat helicopter equipped with a radar detection system would be more expensive, said officials.
The purchase of the Apache helicopters is part of the ministry`s long-term plans. Therefore, the current depreciation of the rupiah against the US dollar is expected to not seriously affect the purchase plan.
The United States previously agreed to Indonesia`s request to purchase Apache AH-64 helicopters.
The defense ministry praised the US agreement and has developed plans to create one squadron of assault helicopters.
Purnomo said he appreciated the US government’s commitment to defense cooperation with Indonesia, as shown by the purchase of the combat helicopters.
He also said that the visit to Indonesia by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel displayed the closeness of relations between the two countries in defense matters.
He described his meeting with Hagel as important in maintaining and expanding communications to create regional stability.
He added that he was pleased by the support given by the US government during the Shangri-La Dialogue last June, though he provided no details.
Indonesia and the United States will co-host the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus, entitled Counter- Terrorism Exercise (CTX), to be held September 9-13, 2013 at IPSC Sentul, Bogor.
The joint exercise, which will involve 18 countries, will be the first-ever held in the Asia Pacific region.
“I hope US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will be present to see the joint exercise,” Pornomo added.
He said the ADMM Plus meeting, which was originally held every three years, is now convened every two years.
Work during the meeting will include forming a new area of cooperation of an Experts Working Group (EWG) on Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA).
With the new area of cooperation, ADMM Plus EWG will have six areas of cooperation — EWG on Humanitarian Assistant and Disaster Relief (HADR), EWG on Peace Keeping Operations (PKO), EWG on Maritime Security(MS), EWG on Counter Terrorism (CT), EWG on Military Medicine (MM), and EWG on Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA).
Purnomo said it is expected that the joint exercise of the armed forces of the two countries could be held in the coming years to improve the professionalism of the Indonesian military (TNI).(*)