Jakarta — A senior Indonesian official said that the country would buy air-to-surface guided missiles from United State producer to equip Indonesia’s growing fleet of US- built F-16 fighter jets, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a local media report Monday.
“Our F-16 fighters must be equipped with the most sophisticated weapons. That’s standard for a jet fighter such as the F-16,” Hartind Asrin, Indonesian defence ministry spokesman said.
He said Indonesia’s purchase of the missiles, which have a target range of up to 22 km, would not worry neighboring countries because Jakarta only wanted to modernise its defence capabilities and had no intention of attacking another country.
“In peacetime, the system aims to create a deterrent. This deal is only to safeguard our territorial sovereignty. It is not for offensive purposes, as is clearly enshrined in our Constitution,” he was quoted by the Jakarta Globe as saying.
Indonesia has requested 18 AGM-65K2 Maverick All-Up-Round missiles, 36 “captive air training missiles” and three maintenance training missiles, plus spares, test equipment and personnel training, worth of an estimated value of US$25 million, earlier reports said.
The AGM-65 Maverick, built by Raytheon, is designed to attack a wide range of tactical targets, including armour, air defences, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities.
The US administration approved the request on Wednesday last week. Defense relations between Indonesia and the US returned to normal conditions in 2010 when the US military renewed its relations with Kopassus, Indonesia’s special forces.
Many saw the normalisation of defence ties as a demonstration of significant US re-engagement in the region as China continues to increase its defence spending. Reopening the U.S. arms markets to Indonesia is a natural next step in maturing military-to- military relations.
Indonesia’s move to buy the missiles comes after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced last week that the country’s defence budget for next year would increase to 77.7 trillion rupiah (about US$8.2 billion), from 61.5 trillion rupiah this year.
Indonesia has 10 F-16s, and after a meeting between US President Barack Obama and President Susilo November last year, the US announced that it was giving, not selling, Jakarta another two dozen secondhand F-16C/D fighter planes to strengthen bilateral ties and foster what the Pentagon has called a “much-needed” capability to protect Indonesian airspace.
The number of missiles being sought by Indonesia would support both the existing fleet and the 24 planes being provided as US surplus, reports said.