Indonesia Adds to its Rafale Fleet: August 2023


By Pierre Tran

Paris – Indonesia entered August 10 the second phase of buying the Rafale, with an 18-strong order entering into force, part of the total acquisition of 42 units, the aircraft builder, Dassault Aviation, said in a statement.

The order for 42 Rafale for the Indonesian air force is worth €8.1 billion, a French defense official said when the deal with Jakarta was announced in February last year.

“As part of the contract signed by Indonesia on February 2022 for the acquisition of 42 Rafale, the second tranche of 18 Rafale came into force today,” the company said August 10.

The first tranche came into effect September 2022, the company said, with Indonesia ordering a batch of six Rafale. The latest batch of 18 units brings Jakarta’s order to 24.

Indonesia’s order for the latest version of the French-built fighter is on a complete “turnkey” basis, the company said.

There appears to be a large industrial offset, with specialist training, tied to the deal with Jakarta. There will be “a substantial industrial return for the Indonesian aeronautical sector,” the company said, and “educational projects will also be launched as part of the technical training of aeronautical know-how.”

No further details were immediately available.

Indonesia’s order for 18 more Rafale came into effect with a down payment of some 16 percent of the deal, business website La Tribune reported. Jakarta had to juggle with claims from other arms programs for funds needed for the second Rafale tranche.

Indonesia raised $3.9 billion on foreign loans, allowing purchase of Mirage 2000-5 fighters and the second order for the Rafale, specialist publication Jane’s reported Nov. 15, 2022.

That loan was reported to allow Jakarta order 12 second hand Mirage 2000-5 fighters, formerly flown by Qatar, in a deal reported to be worth $734.5 million.

The Mirage served as a short-term gap filler, allowing Indonesian pilots to familiarize themselves with a French concept of operations until they receive the Rafale in January 2026, French media reports said.

The French fighters also allow the Indonesian air force to cut use of Russian-built Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighters, which form part of the fighter fleet, which includes the U.S.-built F-16, British Hawk, and South Korean KAI T-50.

Indonesia is also looking to buy some 30 Boeing F-15 fighters and related weapons, worth some $13.9 billion, in a deal reported to be approved by the U.S. State Department.

The western allies are putting pressure to cut international reliance on Russian weapons in response to the invasion of Ukraine ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

That sale of Mirage 2000-5 to Indonesia is seen as boosting sales for Dassault, which will deliver service support, and help business ties in a nation seen as significant in the Indo-Pacific region, an area France seeks to boost its military and political presence.

A French military training company, Defense Conseil International, was reported to have helped the sale of the Mirage 2000-5 to Jakarta. The French state holds a majority stake in DCI, which supports sales of French arms abroad by providing training.

Qatar would have needed the French authorities to authorize the onward sale of the Mirage  to Indonesia.

Dassault welcomed the order for a fresh tranche of fighters for the Indonesian air force, which signalled an increase of business in the Southeast Asian nation.

“This new step consolidates the beginning of a long-term partnership with the Indonesian authorities, whom I would like to thank once again for their confidence,” Dassault executive chairman Eric Trappier said in the company statement.

“It testifies to the strategic link that unites Indonesia and France, and will be reflected in the growing presence of Dassault Aviation in the country,” he said.

The latest fighter sale follows a buoyant year of French foreign arms sales in 2022, a report from the armed forces ministry to parliament shows.

French arms exports last year were worth €27 billion, up from €11.7 billion in the previous year, news agency Agence France-Presse reported. Sales of the Rafale accounted for much of that rise in foreign deals.

“French armaments are not just appreciated through the Rafale, which with its weapons, contributes very significantly to this figure,” armed forces minister Sébastien Lecornu said in the report. “It presents itself as a worldwide reference across a broad spectrum of capabilities: missiles, frigates, submarines, artillery, helicopters, radars, observation satellites.”

The United Arab Emirates placed an order in December 2021 for 80 Rafale, worth €14 billion, and related weapons worth a further €2 billion, and that deal went into effect in 2022 when down payments were made.

Meanwhile, a reluctant administration approved in June the launch of a standing parliamentary committee of three senators and three members of parliament to report on government policy on arms exports and sales of equipment for dual military and civilian use.

Adoption of the parliamentary amendment was the price grudgingly paid by an administration which sought approval for the 2024-2030 military budget law with a seven-year budget of €413 billion, up 40 percent from the previous budget.

The government publishes an annual report on arms exports of the previous year to parliament, but does not inform parliamentarians of the foreign deals as they unfold.

There are two government bodies critical to selling French weapons abroad, and for which meetings and deliberations are held behind strictly closed doors, namely the interministerial committee for review of export of military matériel, and the ministerial committee for review of arms exports after authorization has been granted.

The new parliamentary committee will be able to hold hearings and request information, following the amendment tabled by the senate upper house.

Military spending around the world climbed last year, marking a high since the end of the cold war, with 2022 total expenditure hitting $2,240 billion, a 3.7 percent rise over the previous year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said April 24. The war in Ukraine and tension in East Asia fuelled that spending, the report said, with the sharpest rise in Europe, up 13 percent, spurred on by expenditure in Russia and Ukraine.

Featured Photo:  The French Rafale photo is credited to Dassaut.