Jakarta – Indonesia's Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto is scheduled to visit Austria later this month to discuss the possible purchase of Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters.
The trip would follow his much-anticipated visit to the United States from Oct 15 to 19.
Mr Prabowo is expected to also visit France, Germany and Turkey, although there is no official confirmation yet from the Defence Ministry other than for his visit to the US.
The ministry's head of public relations, Brigadier-General Djoko Purwanto, referred journalists to Mr Prabowo's spokesman, Mr Dahnil Simanjuntak, who was not available for comment.
The visits are believed to be aimed at cementing deals for the procurement of weaponry and for defence industry cooperation to help domestic companies meet the so-called Minimum Essential Force (MEF) targets by 2024.
A leaked document showed that Mr Prabowo sent a letter dated Oct 8 to his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner, thanking her for a letter dated Sept 4. This was in response to Mr Prabowo's initial letter dated July 10.
"We are in the middle of procuring vital equipment to protect our national territory and citizens, thus following (up on) our proposal (regarding) the Austrian Eurofighter," Mr Prabowo said in the letter, a copy of which was received by the The Jakarta Post from an Austrian source.
Mr Prabowo said in the letter that he would be in Vienna on Oct 20 and hoped to could use the occasion to discuss issues of mutual concern regarding defence.
Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported in July that Mr Prabowo had sent a letter Mrs Tanner offering to buy the 15 Typhoon fighters.
The first strategic plan within Indonesia's MEF road map covers the 2009-2014 period. By the end of the second strategic plan in 2019, only 63.19 per cent of the procurement plan had been achieved, instead of the targeted 75.54 per cent.
The government is under pressure, therefore, to achieve the outstanding target to reach 100 per cent 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 achieve 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.
– The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network