Aug 30, 2023
Indonesia has signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing for the purchase of 24 new units of F-15EX fighter jets in the latest move to upgrade the country's aging military air fleet, the country's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
The MoU was signed on Monday by Air Vice Marshal Yusuf Jauhari, head of the Indonesian ministry's defense facilities agency, and Boeing Fighters Vice President and Program Manager Mark Sears.
"We are pleased to announce our commitment to procure the critical F-15EX fighter capability for Indonesia," said Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who witnessed the signing ceremony at the F-15 production facility in the U.S. city of St. Louis. "This state-of-the-art fighter will protect and secure our nation with its advanced capabilities."
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Recent years have seen a number of incidents involving Indonesian and Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, including standoffs between Chinese coast guards and Indonesian navy ships. China also has protested against Indonesia's oil and gas drilling activities in its exclusive economic zone off Natuna, and Jakarta's naming of the waters in the area the North Natuna Sea. China has said the waters are part of its traditional fishing grounds.
The regional tensions have added urgency to Jakarta's plans to bolster its defense capabilities, with the government's program to modernize the country's aging military equipment and weaponry -- declared more than a decade ago -- progressing slowly.
The F-15EX agreement follows similar deals signed by Indonesia for Rafale and Mirage fighter jets, both manufactured by French company Dassault Aviation.
The ministry has not disclosed the value of the agreement. Subianto previously said Boeing had approved financial terms offered by Indonesia, adding he believed it would be an "affordable" purchase.
In June, the Indonesian Defense Ministry revealed that it had signed a contract for a $792-million purchase of 12 Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets, previously used by the Qatari Air Force. Critics questioned whether it was wise to buy used jets, but the ministry argued it was necessary to enable faster delivery of the jets to replace Indonesia's aging military aircraft, which have been in use for decades.
The used Mirage jets from Qatar are scheduled to arrive two years after the signing of the contract, while the first three of six new Rafale aircraft will be delivered in January 2026.
Shortly after the Rafale deal was announced in February 2022, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said that it would accept a purchase request from Indonesia for F-15s. The DSCA said then that it "has made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale" to Indonesia "of F-15ID aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $13.9 billion."
The DSCA said the plan would support U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives "by improving the security of an important regional partner" in the Asia-Pacific region.
The F-15EX is the most advanced version of the F-15 ever built, Boeing said. The first delivery of the jets was made in 2021 to the U.S. Air Force, which plans to acquire 144 F-15EXs from the company to refresh its F-15 fleet.
"F-15 EXs are equipped with advanced radar system and other avionics, allowing the jets to detect and track down targets with a high accuracy," the Indonesian ministry said. "F-15EXs can be equipped with various kinds of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, bombs and other special weaponry."
Sears of Boeing, meanwhile, said in a separate news release that the company will support Indonesia's efforts to upgrade its air defense capabilities as it "remains a committed partner to the U.S. government in advancing international security objectives with allies and partners around the world."