Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto’s widely publicized plan to purchase a batch of used Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters from the Austrian air force has been met with criticism over the quality of the aircraft and their huge maintenance costs.
Security and defense researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Diandra Megaputri Mengko has claimed that the Austrian jet fighters were of inferior quality compared with the Indonesian Air Force’s Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27s and Su-30s.
“Why bother purchasing aircraft that are inferior to the ones we already own?” Diandra said during an online discussion on Monday as quoted by tempo.co.
She suggested that the Eurofighter Typhoons in question belonged to an earlier generation of fighters, adding that they lacked the crucial equipment included in newer models, such as an infrared search and tracking system (IRST).
Diandra further questioned the minister’s plan given that several other countries had switched to more advanced aircraft types, including the United States’ unmanned drone that was used in the assault on Iranian general Qassem Soleimani earlier this year.
“That model is controlled remotely. Meanwhile, we are going to acquire outdated jets. What was the defense minister thinking?” she said.
Separately, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker TB Hasanuddin echoed a similar sentiment, saying that purchasing the outdated Austrian jet fighters would only serve to further drain the state budget. He claimed that maintaining the performance and functionality of the 15 used aircraft would set the country back about Rp 6.5 trillion (US$445.8 million) per year. One of the reasons why the Austrian government wished to sell the outdated fighters in the first place was because they planned to do away with the high maintenance costs, he further said.
“Looking at the estimates, I don’t think we can afford to maintain [the jet fighters],” Hasanuddin said as quoted by tribunnews.com. “This is what we have to pay attention to – the maintenance costs after the purchase.”
He added that the Austrian Eurofighter Typhoons were already at the tail-end of their 30-year cycle, meaning that the Indonesian Air Force could only use the use them for another 13 years before they are decommissioned. Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported last week that Prabowo had sent a letter to his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner offering to buy that country’s 15 Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters.