JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has met with his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner in Vienna to discuss the sale of 15 Eurofighter Typhoon multipurpose fighter jets.
Prabowo arrived in Austria on October 20 for the second leg of his foreign trip to bolster Indonesia’s defense capabilities.
“Today I met face to face with my Indonesian counterpart [Prabowo] to discuss about [Indonesia’s intent] to buy the Eurofighter Typhoon jets from the Austrian Air Force,” Kronen Zeitung quoted Tanner as saying in its October 21 edition.
“Prior to that, most of our communication was only carried out through letters.”
Prabowo and Tanner are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding and an Umbrella Agreement for future collaboration in the defense industry.
Prabowo’s plan to purchase the 15 Eurofighter jets from Austria has encountered opposition from parliament and human rights groups ever since he announced the transaction last July.
Their grounds range from the former three-star general’s failure to notify the House of Representatives’ Commission I on Defense, Foreign Affairs and Information about the purchase, and the lack of funds allocated for the purchase under the government’s annual budget.
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Human rights watchdog Imparsial was just as strident about their opposition to the transaction, as they voiced concerns about the planes’ safety record and how it might potentially put Indonesian servicemen in harm’s way.
Prabowo’s trip to the United States to meet with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper October 15 to 19 was just as stormy.
The stop met opposition from the Indonesian and US branches of Amnesty International and groups, and politicians like US Senator Patrick Leahy who voiced concerns about Prabowo’s past human rights violations.
However, Esper voiced his support for Indonesia’s bid to modernize its armed forces. The two also signed deals for the education and training of Indonesian officer cadets, and the repatriation of the remains of US servicemen who died in Indonesia during World War II.
Prabowo also expressed interest in the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. Officials have yet to disclose whether discussions on the fifth generation jet took place.
(Writer: Achmad Nasrudin Yahya | Editor : Kristian Erdianto)
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