Indonesia puts Qatari Mirage 2000 deal on hold

Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter.
Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter.

The Indonesian government has postponed a plan to purchase 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets formerly used by the Qatar Emiri Air Force’s (QEAF’s) due to budget limitations, according to a spokesperson for defence minister Prabowo Subianto.

According to the spokesperson, the decision was jointly made by the ministries of defence and finance. Instead the government will seek upgrades for the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU)’s fleet of US-made F-16 and Russian Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 aircraft.

Indonesia earlier announced in June 2023 that it has agreed to buy Qatar’s fleet of Mirage 2000 combat aircraft to address a persistent air defence gap.

The TNI-AU stated that it had signed a €733 million contract in January 2023 to acquire the QEAF’s Mirage fleet, comprising nine single-seat Mirage 2000-5EDA aircraft and three twin-seat Mirage 2000-5DDA aircraft.

The deal was to be financed by foreign loans and was brokered by Czech company Excalibur International, which will also serve as an intermediary. The aircraft will be delivered within two years after the contract came into force.

According to the TNI-AU, the original deal also provisioned for 14 spare engines, unspecified weapons, ground support equipment, crew training and other ancillary support, including up to three years of support services.

The Mirage 2000 aircraft were expected to be operated by 1 Squadron based at Supadio Air Base at Pontianak on the west coast of the island of Kalimantan as an interim measure to bolster the country’s air defence capabilities, following the retirement of the TNI-AU’s Northrop Grumman F-5E/F Tiger II light fighters and the increasing obsolescence of its BAE Hawk 209 light combat aircraft.

The latest development is not Indonesia’s first hiccup in acquiring new combat aircraft. Jakarta earlier planned to acquire the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker combat aircraft and had entered into a provisional agreement with Rosoboronexport in February 2018. However, concerns over potential US sanctions had scuppered the deal and prompted Jakarta to acquire six of what is hoped to be an eventual 42 newbuild Dassault Rafale fighters. The first three Rafale aircraft are expected to be delivered in early 2026.

The country has also committed to the purchase of up to 24 Boeing F-15EX Eagle fighters, having signed an agreement with the manufacturer at its St Louis facility in August 2023. The deal is now awaiting US government approval.

Indonesia had also earlier sought negotiations with Austria in July 2020 to procure all 15 Tranche 1 Typhoon combat aircraft operated by the Austrian Air Force, which eventually fell through.

The TNI-AU currently operates a mix of Russian Sukhoi Su-27SK/SMK and Su-30MK2/MKK as well as the US-made Lockheed Martin F-16A/B/C/Ds.

by Jr Ng