Indonesia hopes to sign a deal with Russia to purchase ten advanced Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighters next month.
The powerful Russian-built air superiority fighter would replace Jakarta’s current fleet of American-built Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighters. The Su-35s will join Jakarta’s existing fleet of sixteen older Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 Flankers—of which Indonesia operates several variants despite its small fleet.
Even though the quantities are small, the sale looks to be the Su-35’s first export success outside of China—opening the door for other nations to follow. While Indonesia’s decision to purchase the Su-35 may be welcome news in Moscow, Jakarta is not turning its back on Washington. Ryamizard pointed out that Indonesia operates a fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon and other European-built hardware.
Jakarta, nonetheless, is consciously diversifying its supplier base—no doubt mindful of U.S. sanctions which had hobbled its forces in previous years.
Commitment to strengthen defense cooperation with Russia and the procurement plan is the way for Indonesia to show the world that it is a neutral country in terms of defense cooperation.
There remains a possibility that Jakarta will upgrade its F-16A/B fleet, which means there might still be an opportunity for Lockheed Martin in the very near future.
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest