Indonesia Wants Two Squadrons of F-16 Block 72s

 - October 31, 2019, 1:44 PM
An artist’s impression depicts how the F-16 Block 72 might look in TNI-AU colors. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

The Indonesia Air Force (TNI-AU) chief, Air Marshal Yuyu Sutisna, told local media that the service has inaugurated a plan to acquire two squadrons of Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 72 Vipers from 2020. He said that the purchase will be made in stages as part of the TNI-AU’s five-year strategic plan for 2020-2024.

“Purchasing that variant means we will have the most sophisticated F-16s,” said Yuyu. Indeed, the new jets would mean that the TNI-AU’s fleet will be on par with the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s F-16C/D/D+ fleet, which is currently undergoing a midlife upgrade program that will also include the installation of the Northrop Grumman APG-83 AESA radar and Link 16, with certification of the AIM-9X, JDAM, and GBU-39B small diameter bomb. Work began in 2016 and the first aircraft is expected to be ready in 2020. “Indonesia is a longstanding and valued partner,” added a Lockheed Martin statement. “We are committed to supporting the Indonesian Air Force and stand ready to support their future defense needs.”

Without giving more details, Yuyu also said that the TNI-AU is in the process of acquiring the Sukhoi Su-35 as a replacement for the withdrawn Northrop F-5E/F fleet, a program that has seen significant delays and sanctions that were thought to have jeopardized the deal.

The TNI-AU currently operates two squadrons of 33 F-16s, with 19 ex-U.S. Air Force F-16C Block 25s and five F-16D Block 25s as the backbone, delivered under the Peace Bima-Sena II program following upgrading in the U.S. to Block 52 standards. The six-year project commenced in 2011 and ended in December 2017, allowing the existing 3 Skadron Udara at Madiun to bolster its inventory with new aircraft, and the formation of 16 SkU at Pekanbaru.

Indonesia originally received 12 F-16A/Bs under Peace Bima-Sena I for 3 SkU in 1989-90, and nine of them are believed to remain operational. The TNI-AU’s other principal fighter unit is 11 Skadron Udara at Hasanuddin, which flies a mixed bag of 16 Su-27SKs, Su-27SKMs, Su-30MKs, and Su-30MK2 “Flankers.”

F-16C Block 52
Indonesia’s most numerous fighter is the F-16C Block 52, which is operated by two units. This example wears the markings of 3 Skadron Udara, which flies a mix of F-16A/B/C/Ds. (Photo: Royal Australian Air Force)