Indonesia has made a case for purchasing US-made F-35 fighter jets instead of Russian Su-35 aircraft, the country’s Deputy Defence Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono said.
However, the Su-35 deal had not been canceled and Jakarta is under no pressure from Washington to walk away from the deal, Trenggono said today in comments made to CNN Indonesia. “We have never cancelled,” he was quoted in a text message when contacted by the Bhasha language media outlet.
Nevertheless, he admitted that Indonesia could not purchase the Russian jets currently due to some obstacles. “You can’t buy yet due to some obstacles.” He did not elaborate what these obstacles were.
Trenggono said he was considering other options to the Su-35. He was opening up to opportunities to replace the Su-35 procurement with the F-35 jets from the US, he added.
While it is known that the US is keen to sell Indonesia its F-16 aircraft, this is the first time it has been revealed Jakarta’s interest in the F-35. The falling price of the F-35 and surplus rendered from the Turkish order cancelation is forcing the US to open new markets for its front-line jet.
The F-35A stealth jet is only about 25%- 30% more expensive than the dated F-16 and offers features such s invisibility to enemy radar, networking with other ground, sea and air assets besides a plethora of modern weapons.
Indonesia has made it a priority of acquiring a command and control system to network all its land, sea and air platforms and an F-35 is built as part of a networked battle-space. Besides, Indonesia will have a technological edge in any confrontation with China should it deploy its F-35s.