Indonesia seeks F-16V acquisition

The Indonesian Air Force has announced plans to acquire at least two squadrons worth of US-made Lockheed Martin F-16V (Block 70/72) Fighting Falcons and Russian-manufactured Sukhoi Su-35s under its 2020-2024 strategic plan, according to local media sources.

The news comes from a speech given by Marshal Yuyu Sutisna, Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff, when he was unveiling a monument dedicated to the F-16 Fighting Falcon at Roesmin Nurjadin air base, Pekanbaru – which is the capital of Indonesia's Riau Province. During his speech, he said: "We will buy two squadrons in the next strategic plan 2020-2024. We will purchase the newest type of Block 72 Viper." He added that the deal "is expected to be processed as of January 1, 2020."

Indonesian F-16V [Lockheed Martin]
Concept art of an Indonesian Air Force F-16V Viper. Lockheed Martin

If acquired, the F-16Vs would either complement or more likely replace the air arms 33-strong fleet of legacy F-16A/B (Block 15 OCU) and F-16C/D (Block 32+) Fighting Falcons. The former entered Indonesian service in 1989.

The Viper was unveiled at the Singapore Airshow in 2012 and has since been ordered by Bahrain, Bulgaria, Morocco, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Slovakia. Current F-16 operators, such as Greece and South Korea, opted to upgrade most of their fleets to F-16V standard. Lockheed Martin is also offering the Viper to India, locally known as the F-21, which would be produced in collaboration with the country's Tata Advanced Systems.

In the last five years, Indonesia have been in talks with Russia over the acquisition of Sukhoi Su-35 and in early 2018, a deal – worth roughly $1.14 billion - was reached for the purchase of 11 aircraft, with an option for five more. Deliveries were scheduled to begin in late 2018, but US-imposed sanctions on Russia have left the Indo-Russian Su-35 deal up in the air and as of October 2019, no Su-35s have been handed over. However, in his speech, the Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff reiterated the air arm's intentions to buy Su-35s - whether that is in reference to the already purchased aircraft or ambitions to acquire more of the type remains to be seen.

Marshal Yuyu Sutisna did not give any details about the total number of aircraft the air arm is looking to procure.