Indonesia has backed out of an agreement to purchase Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighters, narrowing its choices down to American F-15s and French-made Rafale warplanes, air force chief Fadjar Prasetyo announced Wednesday.
The decision was made following recent visits to Jakarta by French and Russian defense officials.
Prasetyo revealed that the southeast Asian nation is no longer interested in the Sukhoi warplanes because of a “protracted” acquisition process and fear of US sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
“Regarding the Sukhoi Su-35, with a heavy heart, yes, we have abandoned that plan,” Fadjar said, as quoted by Eurasia Review. “We can’t just keep talking about it.”
Despite Indonesia’s decision to scrap the deal, a Russian envoy to Jakarta insisted that the acquisition agreement “is not dead.”
Purchase of US and French Warplanes
Fadjar did not provide specific details about Indonesia’s potential purchase of US and French combat jets. Still, he disclosed that a team associated with Boeing’s F-15s has assured him that the air force would receive the first units in 2027 if the agreement is signed this year.
In February, Asia Times reported that Indonesia would buy eight US-made aircraft and 36 French-made fighters to bolster Indonesia’s front-line air defenses.
“Indonesia will likely settle on those fighter jets least likely to incense either China or the US, giving France’s Rafale bid an advantage over the others, unless a new contender appears on the horizon,” Indonesian analyst Johannes Nugroho said in a report.
In 2018, the Indonesian government reached an agreement with Russia to supply 11 Sukhoi Su-35 warplanes worth $1.14 billion.
Both countries agreed that the deal would be paid through a barter agreement in which Jakarta would exchange a $570 million package of Indonesian commodities such as crude palm oil, rubber, and coffee.
However, the acquisition was not finalized because Indonesia could have faced US sanctions for purchasing Russian weapons and military equipment.