Tassilo Hummel and Stanley Widianto, Jakarta – Indonesia will order 42 Rafale fighter jets, France's defence minister said on Thursday, after the two countries signed a series of agreements that include submarine development and ammunition manufacturing.
"It's official: Indonesia orders 42 Rafales", Defence Minister Florence Parly said in a Tweet during a visit to the Southeast Asian country.
Indonesia's state secretariat in a statement confirmed agreements had been signed with France but did not mention the Rafales or any specifics of the deals.
The order would make Indonesia the second state in the Indo-Pacific region after India to rely on the jet produced by Dassault Aviation.
Dassault Aviation said the deal marked the start of a long-term partnership and would allow it to rapidly step up its presence in Indonesia. Its shares climbed around 4% on news of the agreement.
Indonesia's state-run Antara news agency cited the country's defence minister as saying the agreement was for six Rafale jets, with 36 to follow.
The deal comes as Paris, which views itself as a global maritime power, seeks to expand geopolitical ties in the Indo-Pacific after the United States, Britain and Australia created a new strategic alliance last year called AUKUS, which includes equipping Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.
The issue is sensitive for France following Australia's cancellation of a multi-billion dollar submarine deal last year with Paris, which accused its allies of backstabbing.
Parly on Thursday said Indonesia had committed "to cooperation with our industry in the sector of submarines".
"Our strategic partnership will benefit from the deepening of our defence relations," added Parly.
Indonesia too has expressed concern about AUKUS, wary the use of the nuclear-powered submarines could add to geopolitical tensions in Southeast Asia, a region where China has considerable clout. Indonesia's defence minister, however, has said he understood why the alliance was formed.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Parly on Thursday and welcomed the signing of deals on submarine development, satellite procurement, and ammunition production.
"I hope that defence partnerships aren't just focused on munition purchases, but also keeping in mind the development and joint production, technological transfer, and investment in defence industries," Jokowi, as the president is known, said in the statement.
[Reporting by Tassilo Hummel in Paris and Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Martin Petty.]