MELBOURNE, Australia --- Indonesia's Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu announced last week that the country intends to procure new tactical airlifters and heavy-lift helicopters from the U.S. in an attempt to recapitalize and upgrade the nation's airlift capability.
The acquisitions planned involve five Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft and an unspecified -- though likely small -- number of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
The C-130J procurement comes as no surprise. Earlier, on June 5, Ryacudu announced that the government planned to procure five new-build C-130 Hercules and that that Indonesia would seek technology transfer from Lockheed Martin as part of its order.
This procurement forms part of a larger, ongoing effort to recapitalize an aging tactical airlift inventory. This fleet is largely comprised of 1970s-vintage aircraft, many of which are obsolete or atrophying. These include old Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules aircraft, Airtech CN-235s, and IPTN NC-212 Aviocars. There are also some Fokker F-27s that have remained grounded since a crash on June 21, 2012, near Jakarta's Halim Air Base.
The C-130s in the Indonesian Air Force fleet were mostly provided via donation from other countries and are badly aging. Four of them have crashed since 2009.
As for the Chinook acquisition, this will fill a key capabilities gap in the area of heavy-lift helicopters. Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago nation, home to over 17,000 islands and a coastline second in length only to that of Canada. It also suffers from natural disasters, which places the civilian disaster relief and search-and-rescue missions high on the armed forces' mission priority list.