Current plans represent merely a “minimum essential force,” with the actual air force needs being much greater to provide the full range of military capability for a country the size of Indonesia, ACM Imam Sufaat, the service’s chief of staff, tells Aviation Week during the Singapore air show. The current force counts seven squadrons equipped with combat aircraft.
The current fighter modernization plan has the Indonesian air force fielding a fleet of Sukhoi Su-30 Mk2s and Lockheed Martin F-16s, with the latter comprising 24 F-16 Block 25 aircraft being upgraded to Block 52s and four F-16 Block 25 and two F-16 Block 15 aircraft for use as spare parts. The F-16s are to be delivered by July 2014 to form two more squadrons. The air chief sees the need for more F-16s and Su-30s. While a type decision has yet to be made on the F-5 replacement, the F-16 is the frontrunner.
The Su-30 fleet is due to grow in the coming three years as well, with two aircraft to be handed over in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Indonesia is still in the process of finalizing plans for the weapons package for the fighters, with interest in a medium-range missile.
Midyear also should see the arrival of the first of 16 Super Tucanos to replace the OV-10s, with the first of 16 T-50 trainers to be handed over by Korea Aerospace Industries next year to replace Hawk Mk.53s.
The rest of the Hawk fleet is due to be replaced by the South Korean KF-X fighter after Indonesia joined the development program.
To help control the fighters, Indonesia is looking to field an airborne early warning and control system aircraft, although a decision is not expected before 2014. Even though the air force is buying C-295 airlifters, the service chief says the country would be looking for a larger system than the AEW concept put forward by Airbus Military. The AEW aircraft will need more endurance than the C-295 can deliver, he notes.
The fleet of CN-235s for maritime surveillance is being upgraded — with three more added for the navy — and the Boeing 737 maritime patrol aircraft also are due for an update.