Indonesia abandons acquisition of 12 Qatari Dassault Mirage 5s

Indonesia seems to have rethought its intentions to procure twelve Qatari Dassault Mirage 5 fighter jets, as indicated by local bloggers, referencing a segment on TV One’s “Evening News” aired on January 1. 

Indonesia abandons acquisition of 12 Qatari Dassault Mirage 5s
Photo credit: Reddit

Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, a spokesperson for Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, stated that “the decision to buy the Mirage 2000-5 squadron from Qatar has been put on hold.”

The official explanation for the purchase deferral remains undisclosed. However, local sources suggest that despite a government-backed guarantee issued to the Defense Ministry for 734.5 million dollars, Indonesia has hit a roadblock in securing a foreign loan for the acquisition. 

A recurring financial problem

Financial constraints have been a recurring issue for Indonesia’s defense in recent times. The country initially participated in South Korea’s ambitious KF-21 Boramae fifth-generation fighter program. Nevertheless, Indonesia has encountered continual hitches in fulfilling its financial commitments to the program since its inception. 

While the specific reason remains undisclosed, in 2023, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates struck a deal whereby the Middle Eastern emirate assumed Indonesia’s programmatic debt, effectively taking its place. 

Old aircraft

Indonesia initially aimed to secure the 12 French Dassault Mirage 5s by late 2023, or mid-2024 at the latest. These jets were expected to bridge a capability gap persisting until 2026 when Indonesia is due to receive its first ordered French Dassault Rafale. The Dassault Mirage 5 was intended to temporarily assume the role of this delivery. 

It’s worth noting that Qatar’s Dassault Mirage 5s aren’t fresh off the assembly line. According to sources in Indonesia, these jets have been utilized only to 30% of their potential, and Indonesia is projected to make use of the remaining 70%. Advocates for the acquisition perceive the Dassault Mirage 5 as an apt temporary substitute for the Rafale. Nevertheless, it’s a reality that this aircraft is out of production, and sourcing replacement parts can be a complex task. 

Indonesia abandons acquisition of 12 Qatari Dassault Mirage 5s
Photo by Karim Jaafar

On a positive note, the acquisition delay might prove advantageous for the country’s Air Force as the upkeep of the Mirage 5 could have resulted in higher expenditure for Indonesian taxpayers than the government initially anticipated. 

Lack of spare parts

In a segment on TV One’s ‘Kabar Evening’ show, former TNI Commander General [Purn] Andika Perkasa, currently the Vice Chairman of TPN Ganjar-Mahfud, stated that the plan to acquire the Mirage 2000-5 was ill-advised. 

“I once spoke with the factory [Dassault Aviation] and learned that the Mirage 2000-5 is no longer being manufactured. This implies we will face challenges in its maintenance due to the difficulty in accessing spare parts,” Perkasa commented. He further highlighted that “the spare parts for the Mirage 2000-5 can only be sourced from nations still operating them or the black market, which will inevitably inflate the budget.” 

Legal obstacles

The Indonesian Commission I member, Bobby Additio Rizaldi, sparked the decision to pause the acquisition of Qatari fighter jets. He called on the government to rethink their plan to buy twelve Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets from the former Royal Qatar Air Force.

Rizaldi suggested this measure was crucial to prevent any breach of Law Number 16 of 2012 in the Defense Industry. This law states that combat aircraft purchases must comply with the Defense Industry Act and mandates that “defense equipment acquisitions must integrate commercial advantage and local content,” among other conditions. 

“To comply with Law No. 16 of 2012, Article 43, Paragraph 5 on the Defense Industry, defense equipment purchases must include commercial returns, local content, and offsets. Meeting these criteria seems problematic with the pending Qatari fighter jets deal,” Rizaldi stated. He further recommended that the government should opt for new defense equipment, briefly adding, “You should buy new ones.”

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