Indonesian Air Force Sukhoi fighter pilots and crew walk across the tarmac after training for an upcoming military exercise at Hang Nadim Airport, Batam, Riau Islands.
Indonesia’s air force is holding its largest military exercise this week, near some of its islands in the South China Sea, in a show of sovereignty over the gas-rich area on the fringe of territory claimed by China, officials said on Tuesday.
President Joko Widodo in June launched an unprecedented campaign to bolster fishing, oil exploration and defense facilities around the Natuna island chain after a series of face-offs between the Indonesian navy and Chinese fishing boats.
China, while not disputing Indonesia’s clams to the Natuna islands, has raised Indonesian anger by saying the two countries had “over-lapping claims” to waters near them, an area Indonesia calls the Natuna Sea.
“We want to show our existence in the area. We have a good enough air force to act as a deterrent,” said a spokesman for Indonesia’s air force. Antara Foto/M N Kanwa