Next week’s Indo-defence show in Jakarta will open a new fighter aircraft procurement contest, one between Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon and Rosoboronexport Su-35 for the Indonesian Air Force’s F-5 replacement program.
From what was considered a done deal in favour of the Russian Su-35, the Indonesian military has opened up the fighter procurement to a three-way contest. The Su-35 was close to a deal till the second quarter of this year but price and transfer of technology (TOT) for local production were believed to be sticking points which made Indonesia invite two more contenders to give their offers.
The government of President Jokowi has made it a policy to buy defence equipment only if there is transfer of technology and joint production. A Russian source had told defenseworld.net during the Singapore Air Show earlier this year that the Indonesian potential order for 8-12 planes was too small for joint production and TOT.
Saab is preparing a high visibility campaign at the 2016 Indo-Defence show with a cockpit simulator of its Gripen aircraft on display in Jakarta next week. Saab campaign director Magnus Hagman told journalists in Jakarta on earlier this week that the Gripen simulator will be featured at the company's booth.
Magnus was quoted by the Jakarta Post newspaper as claiming that the Gripen's operational costs amount to just $4,700 per hour, which is 10 times cheaper than for the Sukhoi SU-35.
Saab has offered local production of the Gripen and training for Indonesian aeronautics firms in integrating the fighter, which hopefully will ensure national competence in supporting the Indonesian Fighter Experiment (IF-X) program. Indonesia is developing its own fighter jet by obtaining technology and prototypes from South Korea but lacks competence in executing such a major project on its own. This where Saab’s expertise could help Jakarta.
Though a single engine plane and the smallest of the three contenders, the Gripen fighter jet integrated with RBS 15 air-to-surface missiles for land and sea targets, is expected to come with an AESA radar which will give it similar punch as the twin-engine planes.
Indonesia plans to buy eight Su-35 multirole air superiority fighter jets from Russia and is discussing the transfer of technology from the Russian side, Indonesian ambassador to Russia Mohamad Wahid Supriyadi was quoted as saying by the Russian Media in June. The main part of the negotiations is complete and talks have now entered their final stage, with the sides discussing the matter of transferring technology from Russia to the Indonesia, Supriyadi has said.
However, it now appears that subsequent events have emboldened rival manufacturers to place their offers before the Russian MoD.