Riau. Indonesian Air Force Chief Air Marshal Yuyu Sutisna has announced a plan to acquire two squadrons of the latest American-made F-16 jet fighters starting next year.
"We will buy two squadrons of jet fighters as part of our strategic plan for 2020-2024. We're aiming for the latest type, the Block 72 Viper," Yuyu told Antara news agency during a visit to Riau on Monday.
The Air Force chief said Indonesia still relies on F-16 fighters for its air defense, with 33 of them still in operation at the Roesmin Nurjadin Air Base in Pekanbaru, Riau, and the Iswahjudi Air Base in Madiun, East Java.
Indonesia started buying the F-16 in the early 1990s, one of the first to do so in Southeast Asia. But most of these aging planes are lacking modern warfare technology.
Defense company Lockheed Martin first introduced the F-16 Block 72 Viper model at the 2012 Singapore Airshow.
"Hopefully the plan will go ahead starting Jan. 1 next year. Purchasing that variant means we will have the most sophisticated F-16s," Yuyu said.
He said the F-16 is a combat-proven fighter aircraft with worldwide operations and used by many other countries.
"Many countries are using this jet fighter, which proves its reliability," Yuyu said.
In addition to the F-16s, Indonesia is also considering a plan to buy the Russian Sukhoi 35 jet fighter.
"We're also in the process of buying jet fighters from the east, the Sukhoi 35," he said without elaborating.