Indonesian officials confirmed on 15 February that the contract for 11 Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E multi-role fighters from Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation has been signed.
In a statement by the Indonesian Ministry of Defence’s spokesman, Brig. Gen. Totok Sugiharto, “Two units of Sukhoi jets will be delivered in August 2018,” adding that six more aircraft will be delivered within 18 months of that delivery, and the final three within five months of the prior delivery.
The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) is procuring the Su-35 to supplant its aging Northrop F-5E Tiger II.
In line with Indonesia’s offset requirements, the contract involves $570 million and $400 million in Russia buying Indonesian commodities and investments, respectively. The latter will involve Indonesia’s aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry.
Indonesia had originally expressed in procuring “a squadron” of Su-35s in September 2015, commencing formal negotiations with Russia in December 2016. The two sides agreed to a contract in August 2017.
Indonesia joins China as the second overseas user of the Su-35, which had begun receiving its fighters in December 2016 from a $2 billion order for 24 aircraft. The TNI-AU already operates Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighters, demonstrating that it is familiar with operating Russian aircraft.
The Su-35 Flanker-E is the latest single-seat variant of the venerable Sukhoi Flanker line. Powered by two 117S turbofan engines with thrust-vectoring nozzles. It has an armament payload of 8,000 kg available through 12 external hardpoints. Its Irbis-E passive electronically-scanned array radar can (according to the manufacturer) detect 3m2 radar cross-section (RCS) targets at 400 km.
Besides the Su-35, there are reports of the TNI-AU seeking another multi-role fighter – potentially totaling a multi-billion-dollar deal – for its mainstay fighter fleet.
In December 2017, the TNI-AU received the last of 24 surplus/ex-U.S. Air Force F-16C/D Block-25s, Reuters reported that U.S. officials are interested in expanding that program with 48 new-built F-16s. The TNI-AU is currently defining its requirements, it is unclear how many new aircraft it requires.
Besides new combat aircraft, the TNI-AU is also looking to modernize its logistics/support capabilities by exploring the potential purchase of four Airbus Defence & Space (Airbus DS) A400M Atlas prop-fan transport aircraft. In March 2017, Indonesia signed a letter-of-intent (LOI) with Airbus DS. The TNI-AU is also examining prospective candidates for an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) program.