Joko Set to Scrap Air Force's Controversial Helicopter Plan

Members of the Indonesian Air Force stand near a Super Puma helicopter at Iskandar airbase in Pangkalan Bun, Jan. 17, 2015. (Reuters/Beawiharta)

By : Novy Lumanauw | on 6:15 PM December 03, 2015
Category : News, Politics, Featured

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo intends to scrap the air force's much criticized plan to import three helicopters for $165 million for use by the president, and instead has urged the military to only procure and purchase equipment that is necessary, Joko said at a meeting on Thursday.

“The purchase of primary defense equipment must be based on the actual needs of the military,” Joko said during a meeting with leaders of the National Police and the three branches of the military on Thursday.

Joko told top security officials that he wants more transparency in defense equipment procurement and urged the military to purchase locally-made weaponry and equipment where practicable.

“The procurement process must be done on the principles of accountability and transparency. The procurement of military equipment and weaponry must also support our own defense industry,” Joko told security officials.

Joko also said the military should focus on meeting the minimum defense requirement by 2024 and the 2015-19 strategic plan for the country's defense sector as set by the government.

Air Force chief of staff Air Marshall Agus Supriatna announced last month that the Air Force planned to purchase three AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for $55 million each, adding that they would be customized to be bulletproof and have their own anti-missile defense systems.

The helicopters would be used to transport the president, the vice president and visiting heads of state, Agus said. However, the initiative came from the Air Force and not from the State Palace, he conceded.

The plan was met with heavy criticism from politicians and aviation experts alike, who argued that the Super Puma by Indonesian aerospace and defense firm Dirgantara Indonesia would be cheaper, save maintenance costs, boost the state firm's capabilities and promote local products.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the president never proposed for the Air Force to buy new VVIP helicopters, let alone choose the more expensive Anglo-Italian helicopters over locally-made Super Puma — under license from France’s Aérospatiale.


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