Indonesia’s MoD scraps 24 Black Hawk deal, eyes purchase cut

As we welcomed the new year, Lockheed Martin, an American helicopter manufacturer renowned for its Sikorsky S-70M Black Hawk, announced the sale of 24 helicopters to Indonesia’s defense ministry. However, recent reports in the British publication ‘Jane’s’ suggest that Jakarta is reassessing its purchase plan and might be considering reducing the order. 

UK may begin production of Lockheed Sikorsky S-70M helicopters
Photo credit: ainonline

A reporter from Jane’s, remarks, “Indonesia’s Ministry of Defense appears to be reevaluating their initial strategy to modernize the armed forces with Sikorsky S-70M Black Hawk helicopters.” This information comes from an insider at the Singapore Airshow 2024, who suggests that Jakarta’s revised plan includes the acquisition of only 22 helicopters, shaving off 2 from the original commitment of 24 units. 

Janes provides evidence via an alleged document unveiled at the Singapore Airshow 2024. The document indicates that the existing contract includes the delivery of 22 Black Hawk helicopters at an overall contract value of US$585 million. This includes a provision for pilot training, ground crews, additional equipment, and necessary reserves. 

UK may begin production of Lockheed Sikorsky S-70M helicopters
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin Sikorsky

Furthermore, the publication pinpoints an unusual activity about this issue on the Indonesian Ministry of Defense’s social media. Specifically, on December 7, they announced the purchase of 24 Black Hawk helicopters on X [formerly Twitter]. However, according to James, this proclamation seems to have mysteriously vanished since then.

Indonesia’s latest purchases

Let’s cast our minds back to 2023 when Indonesia inked a pact to acquire 24 transport helicopters from the renowned American defense company, Lockheed Martin. This was part of a concerted effort to beef up their military aviation arsenal. 

Greek Army Aviation and Special Forces want UH-60M Blackhawk
Photo credit: Pixabay

This acquisition followed an earlier alliance between the Department of Defense and the American aviation manufacturer, Boeing. The result of this partnership? A solid order of 24 F-15EX fighter jets. 

So, what exactly was this latest deal about? On the one hand, we have the government-run aerospace firm, Dirgantara Indonesia, and on the other, Lockheed Martin. They signed on the dotted line for the procurement of Sikorsky S-70M Black Hawk GFA helicopters. Now, these aren’t your average choppers. These behemoths are typically tasked with deploying troops and performing evacuations. Our esteemed Defense Minister, Prabowo Subianto, dubbed this purchase a potential booster for the Indonesian military’s might back in 2023. However, we’re left guessing about the price tag of this transaction, as the ministry remained tight-lipped about it. 

Indonesia has been pouring more funds into its defense in recent times, primarily to modernize its eclectic mix of an air fleet, which includes American-made F-16s and Russian Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets. 

Remember back in 2023? Indonesia bagged 12 brand-new drones from Turkish Aerospace in a $300 million deal. That same year, Jakarta splurged $800 million on 12 pre-owned Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets. However, this purchase faced some heat, as critics labeled these planes as being past their prime. The year 2022 was not without its share of spending either, with Jakarta forking out a staggering $8.1 billion for 42 Dassault Rafale fighter jets.

About S-70M Black Hawk

Tracing its roots back to the famous UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, the S-70M Black Hawk is a new and upgraded model from Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. This multifaceted helicopter has played a vital role in various military operations worldwide due to its robustness and reliability. It has served the U.S. military and many international forces for several years. 

Let’s examine the technical features of the S-70M Black Hawk more closely. It can accommodate a crew of four and up to 11 troops. With a max weight of 23,500 pounds, it can carry an external load of 9,000 pounds. Its impressive dimensions include a length of 64.10 feet, a height of 16.10 feet, and a rotor diameter of 53.70 feet. The helicopter’s airframe is meticulously designed to progressively absorb the impact of a crash. 

UK is looking around for a proven chopper, S-70M may replace Puma
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

One significant characteristic of the S-70M Black Hawk is its operational range. With a ferry range of 1,380 miles, the helicopter can journey this distance without needing to refuel. It also has an endurance time of 2 hours and 18 minutes, proving it to be ideal for extended missions since it can stay airborne for significant periods. 

Under the hood, the S-70M Black Hawk proudly features two reliable General Electric T700-GE-701D engines, each generating an impressive 1,994 shaft horsepower. Thanks to these potent engines, the helicopter can achieve top speeds of up to 183 mph and reach a service ceiling of 19,000 feet. 

Diving into its avionics, the S-70M Black Hawk sports a sophisticated digital cockpit that includes a dual digital automatic flight control system and a four-axis autopilot. Additionally, it comes equipped with a comprehensive communications suite, a weather radar, a forward-looking infrared radar [FLIR], and a global positioning system [GPS]. 

The S-70M Black Hawk’s armament capabilities demonstrate versatility. Depending on the specifics of the mission, the helicopter can be armed with a variety of weapon systems such as 7.62mm machine guns, 30mm chain guns, Hellfire missiles, and 2.75-inch rockets. It also supports door guns and window guns, which makes it a formidable force in close-quarter combat.

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