Novan Iman Santosa, Jakarta – Defense Minister Prabowo is scheduled to visit Austria later this month to discuss the possible purchase of Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters after his much-anticipated visit to the United States from Oct. 15 to 19.
Prabowo is expected to also visit France, Germany and Turkey, although there is no official confirmation yet from the Defense Ministry other than for his visit to the US. The ministry's head of public relations, Brig. Gen. Djoko Purwanto, referred journalists to Prabowo's spokesman Dahnil Simanjuntak, who was not available for comment.
The series of visits is believed to be aimed at cementing deals for the procurement of weaponry and for defense industry cooperation to help domestic companies meet the so-called Minimum Essential Force (MEF) targets by 2024.
Based on a leaked document, Prabowo sent a letter dated Oct. 8 to his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner, thanking her for a letter dated Sept. 4 in response to Prabowo's initial letter dated July 10.
"We are in the middle of procuring vital [defense] equipment to protect our national territory and citizens, thus following [up on] our proposal [regarding] the Austrian Eurofighter [airplanes]," Prabowo said in the letter, a copy of which was received by the The Jakarta Post from an Austrian source.
"In light of the above, I would like to pay a courtesy call at a time of Your Excellency's convenience."
Prabowo added that he would be in Vienna on Oct. 20 and hoped to could use the occasion to discusses issues of mutual concern regarding defense.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Post had not received any confirmation from the ministry or Prabowo's spokesman Dahnil on the authenticity of the letter.
The first strategic plan within the MEF road map covers the 2009-20014 period. By the end of the second strategic plan in 2019, only 63.19 percent of the procurement plan had been achieved, instead of the targeted 75.54 percent. The government is under pressure, therefore, to achieve the outstanding 36.81 percent to reach 100 percent by 2024.
One option for meeting the MEF targets is to buy used weaponry from other countries, such as the Typhoon from Austria.
The plan has reignited an old debate as to whether Indonesia should buy all its military hardware brand new for higher quality or take some second-hand weapon systems to acquire a bigger number and faster deployment.
The delivery of second-hand jet fighters may take between 12 and 24 months, while the delivery of brand-new jet fighters may take some 36 months or even longer. (nvn)