Category: Aviation

Indonesian military TNI to welcome two Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets this year

The Indonesian military is expected to welcome two Sukhoi Su-35 “Flanker-E” to its combat aircraft fleet in October, after signing a contract to buy the fighter jets from Russia.

A spokesman for the Defense Ministry, Brig. Gen. Totok Sugiharto confirmed that the contract for 11 multirole combat aircrafts was signed in Jakarta on Feb. 14.

Sukhoi SU-35.JPG
Sukhoi Su-35. Photo:

Rear Adm. Agus Setiadji, head of defense facilities agency at the ministry, signed on behalf of the Indonesian government with a representative from Russia’s state-owned defense product broker, Rosoboronexport.

The first two fighter jets are expected to arrive in early October, said Totok, in time to take part in the TNI parade to celebrate armed forces day on Oct. 5. TNI is the Indonesian acronym for the Indonesian Armed Forces.

“The Sukhoi jets would replace the existing F5-E Tiger jet fighters fleet,” he added.

The contract, worth $1.140 billion, was finalized following negotiations that started in 2017. It includes the signing of a bilateral deal in Moscow in August to barter coffee, tea, palm oil, cacao, spices and the commodities’ derivatives, processed fish and textiles as well as Indonesia’s defense products with the Sukhoi fleet. Indonesian state trading company PT Perusahaan Perdagangan Indonesia and Russian state conglomerate Rostec will be the agencies implementing the barter trade.

The part-barter deal will allow Indonesia to pay 50 percent of the Sukhoi jet fighter contract by exporting its commodities valued at $570 million, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said in August at a joint press conference with Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu.

“With this barter deal, Indonesia can export more commodities that we have exported before, as well as the ones that we didn’t get to export previously,” Enggartiasto said.

Under Indonesia’s defense industry law, the procurement contract for defense equipment from foreign producer is subject to at least 35 percent offset requirements. Russia has said that it will provide 35 percent offset from the contract value by providing a training for maintenance and repair of the Sukhoi fleet.

In October, then-military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said in accordance to request from the air force, that the Sukhoi jets will be equipped with air-to-air missile, air-to-ground missile, bombs, ground support equipment, simulator, spare parts and spare engines.

The Indonesian Air Force already has a full squadron of Sukhoi Su-27 SKM and Su-30 Mk2 jets.

Since the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is President Joko Widodo’s predecessor, Indonesia has been significantly increasing its defense budget to modernize its aging Armed Forces fleet and equipment and rejuvenate its defense industry.

Its spending on military equipment aims to meet the minimum essential force target by 2024 or the bare minimum of primary defense equipment to safeguard the country’s vast archipelago.

This article first appeared in Arab News

Indonesian pilots see the sky is limited

Students train to fly an aircraft at the state-owned Indonesian Aviation Institute (STPI) in Curug, Banten. Photo courtesy of STPI

The Indonesian transportation ministry plans to kick off development of new airports in 13 locations from 2017 to 2019 to meet Indonesia’s growing appetite for infrastructure and to increase the number of people using air transport for domestic and international travel. Continue reading “Indonesian pilots see the sky is limited”

Rescuers found wreckage of crashed police plane

Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency (Basarnas) said on Sunday that it has found the wreckage of a police plane that crashed in the waters off Lingga Island of Riau Islands province.

“We have found the plane’s wreckage at 24 meters deep just before the rescue operation was called off at 5 pm. It’s about three meters long,”  agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said in a live interview with news broadcaster TV One.

“We didn’t find more human remains, but we have better chances to find more now that we discovered the wreckage,” he added.

The M28 Skytruck plane was carrying 13 police officers – three pilots, two mechanics and eight passengers – to Batam Island near Singapore from Pangkal Pinang when it lost contact just before noon at 5,000 feet on Saturday.

The plane lost contact with air traffic controller at 40 nautical mile southeast of Tanjung Pinang in Belitung Island.

Earlier in the day, Soelistyo told a press conference that rescuers have found parts of human remains. The remains were stored in three body bags and have been handed over the body bags to the police for identification.

The site where the plane has plunged 24 meter deep into the waters has been marked by a buoy.

Fishermen discovered plane debris at around 2.30 pm on Saturday and later in the day, search and rescue team identified the crash location from the bubbles believed to be from the plane’s fuel.

Rescuers retrieved debris from crashed police plane. Photo: Basarnas

Among the items retrieved from the waters were a tire of a plane, a piece of an airplane upholstery and the plane’s red box and manual box. Photos from the agency also showed rescuers retrieving parts of police uniforms and photos of police officers.

Two warships and two Singaporean aircrafts were among the 15 vessels helping with the search-and-rescue mission, alongside 300 personnel including divers, across a 200-nautical-mile search area, Soelistyo added.

“We will continue the main rescue operation for seven days, but we will evaluate it after the first three days, which is the critical part,” he said.


Helicopter crash survivor held up by water hyacinth in Lake Toba

A man was found alive two days after a helicopter crashed into Lake Toby in North Sumatra, held up by a dense mat of water hyacinth, a search official said Tuesday. Continue reading “Helicopter crash survivor held up by water hyacinth in Lake Toba”

Garuda flight attendant injured after wine chiller explodes mid-air

A flight attendant was severely injured when an on-board wine chiller exploded during a Garuda Indonesia flight, the airline said.

The plane was flying with 186 passengers from Melbourne to Jakarta on Saturday when the incident occurred, Garuda spokesman Benny Butarbutar said.

“There was a small explosion in the galley in the middle of the plane but it did not disrupt the flight,” which landed on time in Jakarta, he said.

The spokesman said it was not clear what caused the explosion and no passenger was hurt.

A flight attendant was injured when a pantry panel was blown off and hit her in the face, Butarbutar said.

She was in intensive care after surgery, he said.

Counter-terrorism agency monitoring two pilots over alleged support for Islamic State

Indonesia’s counter-terrorism agency said it had been monitoring two pilots for six months over their apparent support for Islamic State. Continue reading “Counter-terrorism agency monitoring two pilots over alleged support for Islamic State”

Death toll climbs to 142 in Hercules plane crash

At least 142 people were confirmed dead after a military plane crashed into residential area in Medan just two minutes after take-off, hospital staff said Wednesday.

The Hercules C-130 aircraft ploughed into houses and commercial buildings on Tuesday after taking off from the Soewondo airbase in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, officials said.

More than 30 of 142 bodies taken to Adam Malik hospital had been identified and were being handed over to their families, said hospital spokeswoman Sairi Saragih.

Armed forces spokesman Fuad Basya said earlier that eight bodies were of victims on the ground or in buildings.

Workers cleared the crash site and cut large pieces of the plane’s fuselage among destroyed houses and rubble in the streets.

The pilot had made a request to return to base moments before it went down, likely because of engine trouble, military officials said.

The aircraft was carrying 113 people when it left Jakarta, including personnel and their relatives, but some may have got off or on the plane after stopovers in Pekanbaru, Dumai and Medan, Air Force chief Air Marshal Agus Supriatna said Tuesday.

The military said the plane was 51 years old but insisted it was airworthy.

Agus said Tuesday that all B-model C-130s, which were produced in the early 1960s, would be grounded pending an investigation into the crash.

The crashed plane was one of 28 Lockheed C-130 cargo aircraft of different models and ages operated by the military.

The accident has put a spotlight on Indonesia’s poor aviation safety record and ageing military hardware after a 2009 crash involving a C-130 aircraft in East Java province killed at least 98 people.

President Joko Widodo urged a “thorough” investigation into the accident.

“I ask the minister of defence and the armed forces chief to embark on a comprehensive overhaul of the management of military equipment,” Joko said Wednesday.

“We don’t just buy. We have to modernize,” he said.

Since the resignation of the late president  Soeharto in 1998, the TNI has undergone reforms, but efforts to modernize it were hampered by budget constraints after the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

Jokowi’s predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched an ambitious plan to renew old defence equipment, with a defence budget of 156 trillion rupiah (11.7 billion dollars) earmarked for the 2011-14 period.

The government laid out plans to buy modern fighter aircraft, submarines and tanks, and enter into joint ventures with foreign defence companies for local production of weaponry.

Armed forces spokesman Fuad Basya said Indonesia is diversifying the sources of its defence hardware, buying from countries such as Germany, Brazil, Serbia and Russia.

So far the military has achieved only 38 per cent of its “minimum essential force” goal, Fuad said.

“We are happy to hear the president’s commitment and we hope his ministries can realize it,” he said. “The economic situation should not be an obstacle if the government has the commitment.”

Evan Laksmana, a military observer at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, questioned whether the aircraft was fit enough to carry more than 100 passengers with cargo.

“While the Hercules C-130 can theoretically carry up to 42,000 pounds (19,050 kilograms), many consider 100 passengers to be too many for an ageing aircraft,” said

“The Hercules C-130 fleet is ageing, what sort of maintenance policies are in place and are they strictly enforced?” he said

Evan said maintenance is not less important than modernization.

“Procuring advanced platforms is one thing, but budget and planning rarely go into maintenance,” he said.

“As most of our military casualties result from aircraft-related accidents, why is the Air Force still seen as a step-brother among the services?” he said.

Jokowi has been publicly criticized for breaking the tradition of rotating the post of military chief by appointing an army general instead of the Air Force chief, who was supposed to be the next in line for the job.

Meto TV reported that relatives of the victims claimed their loved ones had paid to fly aboard the crashed plane, raising questions about whether the crew had breached safety regulations by selling space to civilians on the aircraft.

Fuad said the military was investigating the allegations, but insisted that those on board were military personnel and their families.

He also dismissed concerns about the age of the aircraft, saying it had not reached the end of its service life.

“Planes are not like human beings,” he said. “If a Hercules’ engine is broken and then replaced it can be like new again.”