Surabaya. Vice President Jusuf Kalla has broken his silence on the Indonesian Air Force's plan to import three helicopters for $165 million for the president and visiting heads of state, after calling the purchase “excessive.”
Speaking during a visit to Surabaya, Kalla said Indonesia already operates five helicopters for the country's VVIP, adding that they are rarely used.
“And [the current helicopters] are relatively new. If [the air force] plans to buy more, that would be excessive,” he said.
Air Marshall Agus Supriatna announced last week that the Air Force planned to buy three AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for $55 million each, explaining they would be customized to be bulletproof and have their own anti-missile defense systems.
The plan was met with heavy criticism from politicians and aviation experts alike, who argued that the Super Puma from state-owned aerospace and defense firm Dirgantara would be cheaper, save maintenance costs, boost the state firm's capabilities and promote local products.
Kalla earlier said President Joko Widodo never proposed for the air force to buy new VVIP helicopters, let alone indicated the more expensive Anglo-Italian helicopters over the locally-made Super Puma.
The vice president said Joko will discuss the much criticized plan after returning from the UN Climate Change Summit (COP 21) in Paris, France.
Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Luhut Pandjaitan said Joko may order the air force to buy Dirgantara helicopters instead of their more costly imported counterparts, or cancel the purchase entirely.