Makassar. The Indonesian Defense Force is set to receive an upgrade with plans to train more pilots and add eight new squadrons of fighter jets.
“We hope that by 2024 we will have eight squadrons of fighter aircraft,” Air Chief Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia said on Wednesday after receiving six Russian-made Sukhoi SU-30 MK2 fighter aircraft. Each squadron is expected to consist of 16 Sukhoi jets.
Ida said the Sukhoi jets were sophisticated fighter aircraft that offered a high deterrent power, which will strengthen the Indonesian Air Force.
The deal on the Sukhois also came with an agreement to train pilots for Squadron 11 at Hasanuddin air base.
Sukhoi technology will also be upgraded regularly to keep up with the rapid technological development, Ida said.
“[We] have a sufficient number of pilots to operate them. But we are also preparing pilots for new fighter aircraft,” he said.
Ida added that the military also hopes to replace its old F-5 Tiger fighter aircraft with aircraft that are more advanced both in terms of technology and weaponry.
“We are looking at our options as it is important to find a more sophisticated replacement,” he said.
The Hasanuddin airbase in Makassar will also be fully equipped with new weaponry, including munitions, the air marshal confirmed.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro confirmed the government’s plan to replace its F-5 Tigers.
He said that aside from the Sukhoi jets, the military had also received the delivery of one squadron of T-50s (Baby F-16s) from South Korea at the Iswahyudi military airbase in Madiun, East Java.
Meanwhile human rights activists have raised concerns over the government’s purchase of sophisticated spying equipment from United Kingdom-based company Gamma TSE, which has a history of supplying oppressive regimes.
But Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Sisriadi said the procurement of new intelligence devices was part of the government’s efforts to modernize its primary weaponry defense systems and that the devices were needed for exchanging information with Indonesia’s defense attaches across the world and to prevent them from being intercepted by irresponsible parties.
“We will use it only for strategic intelligence, not intelligence related to crimes, bank robberies or other [threats],” the defense minister said. JG