Indonesia signs letter of intent to buy 36 Rafale fighters

© Dassault Aviation – K. Tokunaga

Indonesia reportedly signed a letter of intent to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

Since the visit of the Indonesian Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto to Paris in January 2020, rumors emerged of a potential acquisition of Dassault fighter jets to renew the Indonesian Air Force fleet.

In February 2021, the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Air Force, Fadjar Prasetyo, confirmed a plan to purchase 36 units of the French fighters and 8 F-15EXs by 2024 ‒ probably so as not to upset their US ally.

The order now seems to move forward, as a letter of intent was reportedly signed during a visit to Jakarta by Florence Parly, the French Ministry of Armed Forces, on June 7, 2021. The financing of the acquisition would be similar to that proposed by France to Egypt, namely a loan guaranteed for 80% of the total amount of the contract.

Currently, the Indonesian Air Force flies a mix of around 50 F-16 A/Bs and C/Ds, along with about 10 Russian Su-27SKM and Su-30 fighters. 

In November 2020, the United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper turned down the prospect of Indonesia acquiring a number of F-35As and made a counteroffer by proposing a number of F-16 “Viper” fighters, the last version of Lockheed-Martin’s best-seller, instead.


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