JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto faces an uphill climb in his quest to acquire state-of-the-art US-made F-35 fighters which were high on his shopping list during his recent visit to the United States.
Indonesian Ambassador to the United States Muhammad Lutfi said the obstacle to getting the fifth-generation stealth aircraft was bureaucratic in nature.
“Indonesia must purchase 4 and 4.5 generation fighters before they can acquire the F-35. Prabowo and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper touched on this during their meeting on October 16,” he noted in a press conference on November 2 in Washington, DC.
“These include Block 72 F-16s which are the latest of this type of fighter jets, as well as other 4 and 4.5 generation fighters. Only then will Indonesia be eligible to purchase the F-35s.” But Lutfi warned that the process does not end there.
“While Indonesia is eligible to be in the waiting line for the F-35, the waiting time can take as long as nine years. By then [the F-35] might be rendered obsolete so we have to get another type of jet fighter during that time.”
Lutfi assured that the US government can unreservedly give Indonesia a number of technological breakthroughs that have yet to be seen, including top of the line military aircraft. He did not specify what those innovations will be.
During his meeting with Prabowo, Esper expressed the US’ support for Indonesia’s bid to modernize its military forces. The two officials also inked deals on various fields like maritime security and further education for Indonesian military cadets in the United States.
Prabowo's visit to the US stirred controversy due to his checkered human rights record as a three-star Indonesian Army general during then-President Soeharto's New Order regime.
(Writer: Deti Mega Purnamasari | Editor: Diamanty Meiliana)
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