Indonesia to buy 42 French fighter jets for $8.1 billion amid increasing tensions in Asia Pacific

Indonesia is moving to upgrade its ageing airforce fleet with multi-billion dollar orders for advanced fighters jets from France and the United States, amid increasing tension in the Asia Pacific.

The agreement for 42 French Rafale fighters was announced as Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto met his French counterpart Florence Parly in Jakarta.

Subianto confirmed a deal had been struck for the purchase of the planes, with a contract signed on Thursday in relation to the first six.

France’s defence ministry said the contract for the 42 aircraft and their weapons was worth $8.1 billion. Indonesia may also acquire two Scorpene diesel-electric attack submarines.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration also approved the $13.9 billion sale of the F-15 advanced fighter jets, engines and related equipment, including munitions and communications systems to Indonesia.

The deal follows a mid-December trip to Jakarta by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who lauded close US-Indonesia ties despite human rights concerns that have delayed previous arms sales to the country.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of an important regional partner that is a force for political stability, and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region,” the State Department said in a statement.

“It is vital to US national interests to assist Indonesia in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability,” it said.

The statement did not mention China, which has become increasingly assertive in the disputed South China Sea, and in the Pacific.

The US and other Western countries are buttressing alliances in the region as China’s influence grows.