Senin, 04 Desember 2006

Sukhoi squadron 'to fly by 2008'

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Mon, 12/04/2006 1:08 PM

The Indonesian Military says that by 2008 it will have a squadron of 10 Sukhoi jet fighters, with Russia pledging US$1 million in credit for the arms purchase.

"We have four Sukhoi jet fighters now. We hope that, with the new agreement, we could have a squadron by 2008," Defense Ministry secretary-general Sjafrie Sjamsuddin was quoted as saying Saturday by Antara.

Indonesia plans to buy six more jet fighters from Russia through a US$1 billion loan that was signed by Sjafrie on Friday in Moscow.

The loan was set shortly after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to sign several agreements, the most important of which was on military equipment purchases.

Yudhoyono was said to have been impressed by the Russian military technology on display at the recent defense expo in Jakarta.

Indonesia also plans to buy 10 MI17 U-5 carrier helicopters and five combat choppers through the loan scheme. It will also purchase two submarines, 20 amphibious tanks and anti-aircraft missiles for its navy.

Sjafrie said Indonesia would need US$1.3 billion for arms procurement between 2006 and 2010. ""We will try to get the remainder from the Finance Ministry with the National Development Planning Board's recommendation,"" he said.

Indonesia purchased the first four Sukhois, along with two MI-35 helicopters worth US$192 million in 2003, during Megawati Soekarnoputri's presidency.

The purchase was a controversial one as the government did not consult with the House of Representatives before making it. But the Defense Ministry at the time had announced plans to purchase more jet fighters from Russia.

The ministry said Indonesia needed more Sukhoi jet fighters to strengthen its defense and that four Russian jet fighters would not be enough. It said it believed the number of the jet fighters needed to be increased to at least a squadron, between 10 to 16 planes, to build a strong defense system.

The Indonesian Military turned to Russia for arms after the U.S., which had supplied 80 percent of Indonesia's weaponry, placed an embargo on the country following the Dili massacre in Timor Leste in 1991.

The embargo was lifted fully earlier this year after Jakarta agreed to carry out a full investigation into the 2002 killing of two Americans in Papua.

Sjafrie said Indonesia and Russia had signed an agreement to protect copyright in the defense industry, especially in terms of information technology and military strategy. The two countries, he added, had also agreed to enhance professionalism and to hold joint military trainings.

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