Indonesia Orders Rafale

Indonesia will acquire at least 42 Dassault Rafale aircraft under a contract signed today in Jakarta. The long-rumoured deal was formally unveiled and signed during a visit by the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, to Indonesia. Over the last two years, Indonesia has spent big on its military, especially with European suppliers, to help modernise its armed forces. The Indonesian deal is also a win for Dassault and the Rafale, which has enjoyed mixed export success lately, losing competitions in Europe but winning them in Asia.

A French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) Dassault Rafale taxis after landing at RAAF Base Darwin in the lead up to Exercise Pitch Black 2018. Indonesian Flankers are also visible in the background. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Indonesia has a long and troubled history of modernising its air force. Over the last couple of years, Jakarta has expressed interest in acquiring almost every fighter aircraft under the sun. Including the Eurofighter, Su-35F-16VF-15EX and F-35.

Indonesia is also developing the KF-21 “Boramae”, alongside South Korea, despite Indonesia reportedly missing several payment milestones. 

The Indonesian Air Forces inventory is almost as diverse as its ambitions. American F-16s constitute the majority of its combat power. While Russian Su-27s, British Hawk 209s and South Korean T-50Is make up the remainder of its fast jet fleet. When all the Rafales are received and in service, they will be the largest single type operated by the Air Force.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilot flies alongside two Indonesian air force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilots off the coast of Manado, Indonesia, during Cope West 19, June 20, 2019. Approximately 100 U.S. service members and six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 14th Fighter Squadron, based out of Misawa Air Base, Japan, integrated with six F-16s from the Indonesian air force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

It is not clear if Indonesia has ordered the currently available Rafale FR3 or the developmental Rafale F4. The F4 variant isn’t expected to fly until at least 2024 and, the only known export customer for the F4, the UAE, won’t receive its first aircraft until 2027. 

Indonesian industry will receive unspecified “substantial industrial returns” as part of the deal. Which also includes training and infrastructure development to support the jets.