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Indonesia offers to buy Austrian Typhoon fighters

After initial clearance from the U.S. State Department to buy Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, news broke that Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto intended to buy Typhoon fighters from Austria, Novan Iman Santosa reports in the Jakarta Post.

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Indonesia offers to buy Austrian Typhoon fighters Austrian Typhoons (Picture source: Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH)

Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported on July 19 that Defense Minister Prabowo had sent a letter to his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner offering to buy the country's 15 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters. The letter was dated July 10 and arrived at the Austrian Defense Ministry late last week, Die Presse reported. The Austrian Defense Ministry, however, declined to comment on the offer, the newspaper said.

“As I was always impressed by European technologies and know-how, I would kindly ask your support for the following proposal, which hopefully leads to a mutual benefit for our two countries,” Prabowo said in a letter circulated among various media WhatsApp groups on Monday morning. There has been no official confirmation from the Defense Ministry on the authenticity of the letter, though it is consistent with Die Presse’s report.

Austria bought the 15 Typhoons in 2002 in a contract worth 2 billion euro (US$2.28 billion) and has filed a lawsuit to recoup 1.1 billion euro against Airbus. “To achieve my target of modernizing the Indonesian Air Force, I would, therefore, like to propose to enter into official deliberation with you, your Excellency, on purchasing all 15 Eurofighter Typhoons from Austria for the Air Force of the Republic of Indonesia,” Prabowo said.

Airbus is leading the Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH consortium in manufacturing Typhoons in cooperation with other European defense firms, British BAE System and Italian Leonardo.

Die Presse, however, said that selling Typhoons to Indonesia would be complicated, as it needed approval from the four Europan user countries, a difficulty that can be overcome, though: the consortium already offered to move an assembly line from Spain to Bandung should Indonesia decide to procure the Typhoons. Austria’s Typhoons are from Tranche 1, a marker for basic operational capabilities, which focuses more on air-defense missions, while the consortium has offered upgrades to Tranches 2 and 3, which greatly improves the fighters’ ground attack capabilities.

Earlier this year, news broke that Indonesia would buy Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft from France following Prabowo’s visit to the country in January. French newspaper La Tribune reported that Indonesia was interested in procuring 48 Rafale fighters, in addition to two Scorpene submarines and two Gowind corvettes.

Meanwhile, Novan Iman Santosa reports, Indonesia has yet to move forward with its $1.1 billion contract to buy 11 Su-35 Flanker-E "Super Flankers" from Russia due to financial complications and the possibility of facing sanctions from the United States through the latter's Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Indonesia is currently working to make its own jet fighters by securing a 20 percent share in South Korean’s KF-X program, which Indonesia joined in 2010. Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) is working with PT DI to design and manufacture the jet fighter, in which Indonesia is projected to buy 48 aircraft while South Korea is slated to buy 120. The KF-X jet fighter will have its first roll out in 2022 and the first flight is scheduled in 2022, The Korea Herald reported on July 8. The Herald reported that there will be six prototypes and one will be delivered to Indonesia.