Indonesian Defense Strategy: Military Aircraft Acquisition from Russia

Topics: Military, Fighter aircraft, Indonesia Pages: 11 (3824 words) Published: June 13, 2005

A. Background
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri signed a little-publicized deal at the end of April to purchase four Russia fighter jets and two helicopters as part of a much larger potential order. The decision to buy from Russia was a subject to a United States ban on military purchases; this marks a small but significant shift from Indonesia's current dependence on United States' military hardware. The Indonesian military is suffering from acute lack of supplies and parts for its heavy amour as well for light equipment. The United States' imposed embargo on Indonesia since 1999 has rendered the country's military equipment and apparatus partly redundant, leaving Indonesia, once a military might in the South East Asian region desperately behind its neighbors. The United States Congressional bans were first put in place in 1991 after the infamous Santa Cruz massacre of pro-independence civilian supporters in East Timor. They were further tightened in 1999, following the involvement of the Indonesian armed forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia) in the rampages by pro-Jakarta militia in East Timor. This is not the first time that Indonesia turns to Russia for military hardware supports, as it matter of fact, history has recorded the rise and fall of Russian armaments in Indonesia as an inseparable part of the rise and fall of bilateral relationship between the two. From late 1950s to early 1960s, Indonesia was mainly dependent on Soviet's arms. At that time Indonesia was in campaign for the reclaim of West Papua, consequently, it needed a large number of weaponry. But United States were reluctant to sell any to Indonesia, because it did not make any sense if they sell weapons that would be used to fight against Dutch, their own ally. Soviet, on the other hand, was being kind to give arms support that would be paid in long-term and low-interest rate debt. The military equipment received from Soviet, especially for the navy, was so enormous that Indonesia became on of the sea power of Asia. But then, relationships between the two got worsen in late 1960s, and Indonesia was having a hard time in maintaining its military power, particularly to keep up with the advance of military technology. Now, almost a half-century afterward, military friendship between Indonesia and Russia revived again. In time of need, Indonesia turns again to Russia. As it mater of fact, Indonesia is facing a hard time dealing with United States' military embargo. Lacking from military equipment support, Indonesia can no longer continue its reliance to United States' military assistance. In addition, Indonesia is not yet in stable economic condition after the crisis that struck in 1998, hence the purchasing power is somewhat low. But despite those conditions, the need of military equipment to support Indonesian defense strategy is inevitable. Russia, by being a friend in need, has proved it self to be a friend in deed. Time had changed, the Cold War had ended, and security paradigm had shifted and expanded. Conventional threat that come from military aggression is no longer the become the only concern; many other danger threatens the well-being and the very existence of a nation itself. Arms transfer is no longer being conducted in the Cold War framework, with the rivalries between United States and the Soviet to gain influence. Though the sensitivity of this issue may no longer be so provoking, but still the acquisition of military equipment is an important occasion in a state's defense strategy.

B. Problem Identification
From the background noted above, the problem that will be addressed in this paper can be defined as following: "How does the grand strategy of Indonesia implied in the policy to strengthen its military power by purchasing military aircraft from Russia, and what are the considerations for designing such policy?"


Daniel S. Papp mentioned four different reasons for the...

References: Departmen Pertahanan Republik Indonesia. 2003. Indonesia: Mempertahankan Tanah Air Memasuki Abad 21. Jakarta: Departemen Pertahanan Republik Indonesia.
Papp, Daniel S. 1997. Contemporary International Relations: Framework for Understanding, 5th Edition. Needham Heights: Allyn and Bacon.
"Fighter Aircraft Purchase from U.S. Still Remote" in partner/tag02/register, accesed on May 25, 2003 at 08.06 PM.
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