Russian-Made Fighter Jets Arrive in Makassar


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Russian-Made Fighter Jets Arrive in Makassar

Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Two Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets purchased by the Indonesian Air Force arrived in Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, on Friday, a military spokesman said.
The Su-30MK2 fighter jets, along with 42 Russian technicians, arrived at Makassar’s Hasanuddin Air Base on a Russian Antonov aircraft, said Maj. Mulyadi, a spokesman for the air base.
The purchase of the Sukhois was part of a $355 million, six-aircraft deal that Indonesia signed with Russia in 2007.
Under the contract, Russia will supply Indonesia with three Su-30MK2 and three Su-27SKM fighter jets, in addition to the two Su-27SKs and two Su-30MKs that are already in service with the Air Force.
“The Russian technicians will assemble the planes together with our technicians,” Mulyadi said. “They will do two weeks of test flights, after which they will officially hand the planes over to us.”
On Sept. 5, the government signed a loan agreement worth $355 million with France’s Natixis Bank. Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank, issued a letter of credit after the loan was approved by the House of Representatives.
The Russian planes will replace the old A-4 Skyhawk aircraft based in Makassar.
“Indonesia has prepared all the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the Russian-made fighters, such as a separate hangar,” the aircraft’s manufacturer, Sukhoi Holding, said in a statement quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
“Pilots and technicians are also available for the servicing of the aircraft,” the statement said.
An official from Russia’s state-run arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, said that the official handover ceremony for the jets would take place in mid-January.
“The aircraft have been delivered to an air base in Makassar and received by the Indonesian side,” Vadim Varaksin was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.
“After assembly by Russian specialists and a series of test flights, the aircraft will be officially transferred to Indonesia.”
Ten of the Russian-made aircraft will be assigned to the 11th Air Force Squadron.
The Indonesian Defense Ministry’s director general for defense facilities, Air Vice Marshal Errys Herryanto, said last week that another Su-30MK2 was scheduled to be delivered in January 2009, while the three remaining SU-27SKs were expected to arrive before 2010.
Errys said that the Air Force was ready to operate the jet fighters, citing extensive preparation by technicians and pilots, who have been sent to Moscow and China for training.
Air Chief Marshal Subandrio said on Monday that the military would not ask the government to build Sukhoi training simulators.
“From our experience training F-16 jet pilots, it is more effective to use other countries’ simulators,” Subandrio said.
He added that Indonesia planned to purchase more defense equipment from Russia with a $1 billion credit line extended by Moscow in 2006. The two countries have already signed a $50 million loan agreement for 17 new BMP-3F amphibious tanks.