France signs major deal on Rafale warplanes, submarines
Indonesia has inked deals to purchase the first batch of French-made Dassault Rafale multipurpose fighter jets and two Scorpene-class submarines.
The contract for the first six aircraft, signed on Thursday, is part of the Southeast Asian country’s plan to acquire a total of 42 planes from Paris, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto told local media. The Kompas newspaper reported that Jakarta had initially planned to buy 36 jets.
“Our strategic partnership will benefit from the deepening of our defense ties,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted. “France is proud to contribute to the modernization of the armed forces of our partner that plays a key role within ASEAN [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and the Indo-Pacific,” she wrote.
“Indonesia chooses French industrial excellence! The know-how of more than 400 French companies and thousands of workers who design the Rafale has been recognized,” President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
Indonesia initially sought to buy Russian Su-35 jets but announced in December that it was scrapping the deal in favor of the Rafale aircraft. Indonesian media quoted the country’s air force chief as saying at the time that Jakarta risked ending up under US sanctions for an arms deal with Moscow.
France was snubbed last fall as well, when Australia, without prior notice, decided to scrap an agreement to buy French submarines in favor of AUKUS, a broad security arrangement with the US and the UK. The move greatly angered officials in Paris, with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian calling it “a stab in the back.”
Prabowo said on Thursday that, in addition to the Rafale deal, Indonesia had signed a cooperation agreement which “will certainly lead to the purchase of two Scorpene-class submarines.” The arrangement was confirmed by Parly.