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Indonesia could make ‘unknown’ aerial hybrid – Su-35 with Western avionics

This post was published in Military Watch. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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JAKARTA, (BM) – While Indonesia has shown a strong interest in the Su-35, which would provide it with the most modern and heaviest air superiority fighters in Southeast Asia, the country has faced two key problems with acquiring the platform.

The first is the threat of economic sanctions from the United States, as Washington has threatened extreme measures to dissuade Jakarta from purchasing arms from states considered to be Western adversaries.

There remain a number of ways to offset this issue, including through large purchase of American weapons systems such as the F-16V lightweight fighters which the Indonesian Air Force has also shown a strong interest in.

A second impediment to the purchase are concerns that acquiring the Su-35 will impede Indonesian efforts to conduct network centric operations built around its predominantly Western hardware [F-16 – ed]. The Su-35, and older Su-27 and Su-30 jets already in Indonesian service, cannot share data and are not optimised to operate alongside F-16 fighters or the country’s European built warships.

This issue could potentially be offset, however, if the country is able to integrate Western avionics onto its fighters – much as Algeria has with its Su-30MKA. While Russia has not in the past given permission for such moves by Su-35 clients, it could potentially provide a means to ensure the sale to Indonesia is successful. While the Indonesian Air Force initially showed an interest in acquiring just 11 Su-35 fighters, further purchases are likely if the performance of the first batch is satisfactory.

Rosoboronexport, Russia’s prime arms exporter, stated to this effect: “Russia can supply Indonesia with the latest Su-35 multipurpose fighters, adapting them as much as possible to the needs of the customer. We are sure that this is the best choice for increasing the combat effectiveness of the Indonesian Air Force.”

These additional fighters could eventually replace the Su-30MK2 and Su-27 fighters currently in service, and are compatible with the same weapons and maintenance infrastructure.

At the same, Russia has offered to adapt its heavyweight twin engine fighter to the needs of its Southeast Asian client ensuring that the jet can perform well alongside existing platforms.

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