JAKARTA, BM, ($1=14,404.90 rupiah) – The Indonesian government intends to buy two air tankers to charge aircraft in the air, but according to the Asia Pacific Defense Journal (APDJ), Jakarta will seek a loan for the deal. The contract is valued at $ 700 million, but APDJ does not say whether Indonesia is seeking a loan for all or part of it.
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The purchase of two airborne tankers is a project that has been under consideration since at least 2019. According to available information, GMF AeroAsia, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s national airline Garuda Indonesia, has been hired to study the type and need for the two aircraft.
It is currently unclear about the make and model of the air tankers, but it is clear that the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) has conducted a parallel study, independent of GMF AeroAsia, and has considered several options, including the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus, Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and Ilyushin Il-78 tanker.
APDJ says that GMF AeroAsia has completed its study, which according to the media was in-depth and included the capabilities of the future tanker on four main indicators: tanker life cycle cost, compatibility for loading with available TNI-AU aircraft, charging method, and interoperability. The APDJ concludes that Indonesia needs a tanker with a flying boom and probe-and-drogue method, and the tankers should be propelled by jet engines.
The future two air tankers are part of an ambitious project to modernize and increase the power of the Indonesian Air Force and the army as a whole, after the Ministry of Defense published a list of 31 projects needed to improve the efficiency of the Indonesian military in April this year.
Jakarta currently operates a Lockheed KC-130B Hercules air refueling tanker, which operates on the same principle and method as Indonesia’s requirements. The problem is that this aircraft is too old and it is better to buy two new ones than to repair them. Indonesia also had a second tanker for air refueling but lost it in 2015 in an accident.
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