Eurofighter Typhoon: Austria examines Indonesia’s surprise offer

Ryan Fletcher

The Austrian Ministry of Defense is ready to move forward with the offer of the Indonesian government to acquire the fleet of fifteen Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. 

Klaudia Tanner, Austria’s Defense Minister, notified her Indonesian counterpart, Prabowo Subianto, that she was ready to start sales negotiations. The Austrian General Staff was ordered to prepare for the sale, according to local media Kronen Zeitung.

“The sale of the Eurofighter aircraft is our declared goal,” Tanner said. “However, it is also clear that any sale is very complex and difficult due to the terms of Darabos [the former Defense Minister responsible for the aircraft acquisition] sales agreement.” 

For the fleet of 15 Eurofighter Typhoons to join the Indonesian Air Force, Austria has two options: either the Eurofighter consortium issues a new end-user certificate for Indonesia with the approval of the four manufacturing countries (namely Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain) and Austria sells the fleet directly to the country. Or, Airbus buys back the jets, upgrades and delivers them to Indonesia.

An unpopular acquisition

Since 2002 when the Eurofighter Typhoon in the Tranche 1 air superiority variant was chosen to replace Saab 35 Draken and Northrop F-5E Tiger fighter jets, the acquisition valued at €1.75 billion has been targeted by critics. 

The aircraft, whose main mission is to protect the Austrian airspace, is considered too expensive for their modest tactical application. The Austrian authorities thus decided to launch a campaign to find a new future for their unwanted fighter jets ‒ in vain. On July 6, 2020, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced that the country’s Air Force would retain the Typhoons. 

But four days later, Indonesia’s Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto reached out with a surprise offer. “In order to modernize the Indonesian Air Force, I would like to enter into official negotiations with you to buy all 15 Eurofighters for the Republic of Indonesia,” Prabowo wrote in a letter. “I am aware of the sensitivity of the matter, but I am sure that my offer offers opportunities for both sides.”

The Southeast Asian country is in the process of modernizing its air force, which operates an aging fleet of F-16A/B Fighting Falcon and a small number of Sukhoi Su-27SKM.

As for the Austrian Air Force, the Saab JAS 39E Gripen, reputed for its small price, is being considered as a strong candidate. Some hope that the sale of the Typhoons to Indonesia would be sufficient to fund the acquisition of the Swedish fighter jet.


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