Indonesia Receives Its Last Upgraded F-16; Considers Buying Chinooks

 - December 18, 2017, 2:41 PM
An Indonesian air force F-16C Block 52 ID on a functional test flight from Hill AFB, Utah. (USAF photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) received the last six of 24 refurbished former U.S. Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcons this month. Separately, the Indonesian Army (TNI-AD) is mulling a buy of Boeing CH-47 Chinooks, having taken delivery of the first three of eight new Boeing AH-64E Guardians on December 18 .

The F-16 acquisition project is named Peace Bima Sena II and started in 2011 when the TNI-AU agreed to acquire 19 F-16C Block 25s and five F-16Ds. The mothballed F-16s were refurbished and upgraded to Block 52 ID standard by the Ogden Air Logistics Complex in Utah. It was reported that each airframe took 15,000 man-hours to complete.

The upgrade includes Northrop Grumman AN/APG-68(V) radars; MMC-7000A version M-5 modular mission computers; Link-16 datalinks; AN/ALQ-213 electronic warfare management systems; and ALR-69 Class IV radar warning receivers. The upgrade also included certification for AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles and AN/AAQ-33 Sniper or AN/AAQ-28 Litening targeting systems.

At the delivery event, Iswahjudi airbase commander First Marshal Samsul Rizal said that the F-16C/Ds are expected to operate for another 20 years. He added that pilots from the TNI-AU’s F-5E squadrons are now being posted to the KAI T-50 and becoming instructors in other units. The F-5Es are slated to be replaced by the Sukhoi Su-35. "We are still awaiting the results of the final discussion on the signing of the Su-35 contract, but in principle, all facilities and personnel are ready to receive the Su-35,” Samsul told Indonesian media.

Talks with Boeing for the potential procurement of the Chinook were revealed to local media by Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu. He said that he would consult the TNI-AU and the TNI-AD on their respective requirements. A Boeing spokesperson told AIN: “We believe CH-47 Chinook helicopters would complement the country’s newly acquired Apache fleet, and we continue to have discussions with the government on how we can best serve the country’s defense needs.”

Indonesia hopes to develop three of her islands into "aircraft carriers," fully equipped with military facilities to maintain the sovereignty of the archipelago. These islands are Bitung in the Celebes Sea; Selaru in Timor Sea and Natuna in the South China Sea. The last is already undergoing infrastructural expansion and the TNI has revealed that the F-16 and the AH-64E will be based there in the future.