US Mulls Over Indonesia’s Military Drones Purchase

Indonesia requested military drones from the US as an addition to its security,
Indonesia requested military drones from the US as an addition to its security,

The Indonesian government is considering military drones purchase from the United States. But, the State Department is still deliberating due to concerns about human rights abuses.

Indonesia wants to advance the country’s armada of maturing fighter planes. It plans to buy new planes from South Korea, Russia, France, and the US. The government requested to buy MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones.

To Sell or Not To Sell Military Drones

The White House and the State Department have been collaborating for months about a new arms transfer policy. It aims to lay a renewed priority on human rights and safeguarding civilians. It’s an analysis that could perplex some pending arrangements with countries with a history of abuses.

The analysis, together with the Qatar and Indonesia requests of military drones delivered export created a more significant debate in the Biden administration. It includes countries that must be able to get US help.

Both Indonesia and Qatar used to have histories of human rights abuses. A few US diplomats are reluctant to transfer armaments that can turn to civilians in the long run.

It’s also dubious if Indonesia can accurately regulate processes to foster U.S.-made technology. Another things is, if the local government can sustain high-end technology for a long time. The country’s request for Gray Eagle military drones pervaded since Trump’s last year administration.

Another concern is, when Indonesia buys a drone that can carry missiles. Although the US won’t arm it, the said Asian country could buy missiles from China or Russia. There was a report in April that Jakarta bought air-to-surface AR-2 missiles to equip its Chinese-made CH-4 drones.

Additonal Weapons to Inventory

Indonesia has nearly 70 aircraft, consisting of aging Russian fighters and U.S-made F-16s. The government showed interest in purchasing new F-15EX fighters from the U.S. It’s going to be a new addition to the nation’s Russian Su-35 and French Rafale fighter planes.

“They like shopping, but buying is another story. “The new fighter requirement has been around for a great many years; they’ve never actually purchased a new Western combat aircraft. The very fact that they’re shopping all over the world, including for Russian equipment, that in itself is a red flag,” said Richard Aboulafia.

Aboulafia is vice president of analysis at the Teal Group. He added that Indonesian government’s inability to fulfill may give the US second thoughts to pursue with the military drones request.

The Biden administration still displayed interest in strengthening the air wings among ally countries. In fact, it approved a deal with the Philiipines that requested 10 F-16C fighter planes. Australia, on the other hand, will have 12 MQ-9 Reaper drones.

Indonesia to Pay KF-21 Fighter’s 20% Development Costs

The Indonesian Ministry of Defence confirmed to fund the KF-21/IF-X multirole fighter aircraft’s 20% development cost. The 30% of the contribution will be paid in kind, according to the South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). The disclosure is a part of the agreement between Indonesian and South Korean representatives held in Jakarta.

Based on the initial agreement, Indonesia will pay 20% of the total development cost of the KF-21/IF-X. The project costs KRW 8.8 trillion equivalent to USD7.5 billion that Indonesia needs to pay until 2028. South Korea will cover 60%, while the Korea Aerospace Industries will take care of the remaining 20%.

All involved agreed that between 2015 and 2026, the  KRW8.12 billion would be invested in system development. They will add the remaining KRW680 billion for additional weapon testing between 2026 and 2028.

Image Source: David Stanley/WikimediaCommons