Indonesia Places Firm Order for 11 Su-35 Multirole Fighters

 - February 20, 2018, 9:03 AM
Indonesia has followed China in acquiring the Sukhoi S-35S, the export version of Russia’s most capable operational fighter.

Indonesia and Russia have signed a contract for 11 Sukhoi Su-35S multirole fighters. According to Indonesian Defense Ministry spokesman Totok Sugiharto, the $1.14 billion contract has been finalized. "Two units of Sukhoi jets will be delivered in August 2018," he added, noting that six more would be delivered 18 months after the contract becomes effective, and the remaining three would be delivered five months after that. The contract brings to an end a long-running procurement for an “F-5 replacement,” which drew competition from a number of Western types such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, and Saab Gripen.

Other details of the deal have yet to emerge, but it is already known that part of the cost will be paid with Indonesian traditional export items, such as palm oil and rubber. In addition, according to the recent Indonesian regulations, the deal should involve offset obligations on the exporter.

With this order, Indonesia becomes the second overseas customer for Russia’s “4++” generation supersonic fighter. China placed an order for 24 such jets in 2015 worth $2.5 billion. An initial batch of four went to the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) the following year, and 10 more in 2017, according to Yuri Slyusar, president of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which controls the Sukhoi design bureau and KnAAPO plant that assembles the Su-35S. The remaining 10 aircraft are due to be delivered this year, while some of the ground equipment and weapons will be provided in 2019 when the contract materialization should be complete. PLAAF pilots began training in Russia in the fall of 2016.

Indonesia firmed up its first order for Sukhoi jets in 2003. Since then it acquired five Su-27SK single-seat interceptors and 11 Su-30MK2 twin-seat multirole fighters, the last of which were delivered in 2013. Negotiations on the more advanced Su-35S opened in 2014, shortly after the Russian air force confirmed its initial order for the type.

Although the Su-35S deal had long been agreed in principle, with numerous official confirmations from officials in Jakarta, it proved difficult to formalize. Speaking to AIN earlier, director for international cooperation and regional policies with Rostec state corporation Victor Kladov said the previous U.S. administration applied heavy pressure on Jakarta to stall its military technical cooperation with Moscow. The Obama Administration lifted the U.S. sanctions on Indonesia’s arms imports imposed for human rights abuses in the Aceh and other regions, including those applicable to the F-16C fighters and air-launched munitions. The U.S.-made F-16 and F-5 fighters in the Indonesian air force inventory had been grounded for long time due to shortage of spare parts and the halt of support from manufacturers.

According to Kladov, the Su-35 deal would be the first of a series for Russian equipment. Next in line is “a major shipbuilding program,” of which details are yet to be made public, and a similar one concerning rotorcraft. Rostec member Techmash will see to production of munitions in Indonesia, including 30mm and, possibly, 100mm shells for BMP-3F infantry fighting vehicles in service with the Indonesian marines.