Jakarta – Indonesia has agreed to buy six Rafale fighter jets from France's Dassault Aviation, the first part of a bigger deal to bring in 42 aircraft over the next few years as Southeast Asia's largest economy moves to modernize its military.
Minister of Defence Prabowo Subianto confirmed the deal for multirole combat aircraft on Thursday as his France counterpart Florence Parly visited Jakarta.
"We plan to acquire 42 Rafale aircraft. We started today with six aircraft, which will be followed with a contract for the other 36 aircraft soon as well as weapon training and simulators," Prabowo said in a statement.
Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation Eric Trappier, and the Air Vice Marshal Yusuf Jauhari, the head of Defence Facilities Agency at the Ministry of Defence, signed the contract to purchase the 42 jets, witnessed by Prabowo and Parly.
Concerning the sales, Dassault had signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesian state aircraft manufacturer Dirgantara Indonesia for offset and transfer of technology deals. Offset deal often involves aircraft selling country, in this case, France, to buy goods from the purchasing country as a way to compensate the latter.
"Indonesia's choice to use the Rafale aircraft shows Indonesia's trust in France and is proof that the strategic partnership between the two countries is robust and dynamic," France's Parly said in the statement.
"The signing of the contract between Indonesia and France, which has just been carried out, is an important stage in the procurement process for Indonesian defense equipment. France hopes that this cooperation contract can be activated as soon as possible," Parly said.
Dassault's Trappier said the deal paves the way for the company's long-term presence in Indonesia, which also would be the first country in the Southeast Asia region to operate Rafale fighter jets.
"This contract marks the start of a long-term partnership that will see Dassault Aviation rapidly step up its presence in the country. It also demonstrates the strong bond between Indonesia and France and reinforces the position of the world's largest archipelago as a key power on the international stage," Trappier said in the statement.
In addition to the Rafale deal, Indonesia and France agreed to work together in submarine research, telecommunication, and large-caliber munitions.
State-owned shipbuilder PAL Indonesia signed a submarine research and development MoU with the Naval Group. Meanwhile, state-owned communication equipment company Len Industri signed a deal with France multinational Thales Group.
For the large-caliber munitions manufacturing, state-owned weapon maker Pindad will work with its French government-owned counterpart, Nexter Munition.