Indonesia is turning to surplus combat aircraft and engines to fill a hole in its frontline air defenses.
According to defense minister Prabowo Subianto, the government has no choice but to buy second-hand defense hardware until it finds more money.
He cited an urgent need to strengthen Jakarta’s air defense capabilities due to rising tensions in the South China Sea.
On Thursday, Prabowo confirmed that Indonesia is buying 12 used Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets from Qatar for $792 million.
The move comes as the country awaits the delivery of its first batch of Rafale fighter jets from France, which will occur no earlier than January 2026.
The Mirages are set to replace Indonesia’s F-5 supersonic light fighter jets, decommissioned in late 2005.
They will be stationed at Supadio Airbase near the southern edge of the disputed sea.
F-15 Engine Deal
Apart from second-hand combat aircraft, Indonesia has also expressed interest in acquiring surplus F-15 jet engines from Japan.
It comes amid reports that Tokyo may have to dispose of 200 Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines extracted from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s retired F-15s.
The engines, mostly 20 years old, can be used to help the Indonesian Air Force power its aging F-16 fighters.
The sale would boost Jakarta’s military modernization while bolstering Japan’s strategic influence in the region.
Declining Combat Readiness
According to the Indonesian defense ministry, the need for more fighter jets arises as many aircraft have already entered or are nearing retirement.
A number of aircraft also need to be upgraded, overhauled, or repaired.
Jakarta previously considered purchasing Russian Sukhoi Su-35s to plug its air defense gaps but was compelled to drop the plan due to US sanction concerns.
Meanwhile, negotiations are underway for the $14-billion acquisition of 36 McDonnell Douglas F-15EX twin-engine fighters and related equipment from Washington.
“Indonesia needs fighter jets that can be delivered quickly to offset the Indonesian Air Force’s declining combat readiness,” the ministry explained.