Indonesia cancels Qatari Mirage 2000 order amid corruption allegations

U.S. Air Force photo

The Indonesian Ministry of Defense announced that it had canceled the purchase of 12 second-hand Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets from Qatar due to budget constraints.  

In June 2023, the Indonesian government said it planned to purchase the aircraft from the Qatari Emir’s Air Force for €680 million ($732 million). The 2000-5 is an air superiority variant of the aircraft developed by Dassault Aviation in the 1970s.

The Indonesian Minister of Defense, Prabowo Subianto, defended the project, arguing that the aircraft were needed as an interim measure while awaiting the delivery of 42 Rafale jets ordered directly from Dassault Aviation. The minister claimed that the Qatari Mirage fleet still had approximately 70% of its total flight hours. 

However, the opposition criticized the plan to purchase the Mirage 2000 and pointed out the lack of long-term availability of spare parts, maintenance, and repairs for the aircraft. Per the contract, the support service guarantee was limited to three years. 

Earlier in January 2024, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, a spokesperson for the minister, revealed that the government postponed the Mirage 2000-5 order due to financial limitations. Days later, the final tranche of 18 Rafale fighters officially entered into force after the first payment for the last batch was made.   

Corruption allegation ahead of Indonesia’s presidential election 

A recent article published on the MSN portal suggested Subianto was involved in a corruption case related to this purchase. According to the article, the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body, opened an investigation into Excalibur International, a Czech company involved in the order negotiations. 

Simanjuntak has rejected the accusations and claimed that the article was an attempt to manipulate the public before the presidential election scheduled for February 14, 2024. The current defense minister is one of the candidates in the election. The incriminating article has since been taken down. 

Speaking to local news portal detikFinance, Simanjuntak has announced that the Mirage 2000-5 purchase project has been altogether canceled, arguing that corruption claims were baseless. The ministry spokesperson stated that budget constraints had led to the decision to cancel the plan and that the focus will now be on modernizing the existing aircraft to maintain the country’s air capabilities. 

The Indonesian Air Force maintains a fleet comprising roughly 50 F-16 A/Bs and C/Ds, alongside approximately 10 Russian Su-27SKM and Su-30 fighters. In addition to filling a capacity gap, the canceled Mirage order was also meant to transition Indonesian pilots between their current Russian and US aircraft and the upcoming French Rafales.

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