Billion-Dollar Deal Inked with Russia

Billion-Dollar Deal Inked with Russia

JAKARTA ~ The government has agreed to buy weaponry worth US$1 billion from Russia over the next five years to beef up its military capability, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said.

The five-year plan was approved by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at a cabinet meeting last week and will take effect from 2007, Sudarsono said.

“We have agreed that the main weaponry system from Russia is needed, especially strike force” equipment for Indonesia’s army, navy and air force, he said.

Payments for the deal would be strictly government-to-government, Sudarsono said. He cautioned that his department would monitor for possible cost “inflation” by Russian officials.

The plan includes the purchase of eight Sukhoi jets, two submarines and up to four assault helicopters, Sudarsono said.

The purchase would be inline with government efforts to build a squadron of Sukhoi jets, raising the total number in Indonesia to 10. A normal Indonesian Air Force squadron would contain 12 planes.

Indonesia was forced to look for new arms suppliers after the United States imposed restrictions on military sales and cooperation over concerns about rights abuses committed by the Indonesian military in East Timor in 1991.

The United States, eager for Indonesia’s assistance in fighting terrorism, lifted arms restrictions and resumed full military ties in November 2004.

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