Indonesia has signed a contract to buy 18 more Rafale fighter jets from France as Jakarta completed a 2022 order for 42 of these warplanes, in upgrading its air force fleet amid regional security challenges.
The introduction of the Rafales, fifth-generation aircraft, represents a significant technological advancement for the Indonesian Air Force. Capable of carrying a variety of armaments, including long-range missiles and laser-guided bombs, these versatile aircraft will enhance the AU’s capability to conduct various operations, from air superiority to anti-ship defense.
The arrival of the Rafale fighter-jets along with their weapons and support equipment is expected to significantly increase the strength and readiness of the Indonesian Air Force in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty in the air,” the ministry’s spokesman, Brig. Gen. Edwin Adrian Sumantha, said in a statement.
The first Rafales, along with their armaments and support equipment, are expected to arrive in Indonesia in early 2026. The first contract for six units was signed in September 2022, followed by a second payment in August 2023 for an additional 18 units. Additionally, Indonesian pilots are currently undergoing training in France to familiarize themselves with these new jets.
This acquisition places Indonesia alongside other nations such as India, Croatia, and Greece, which have also chosen to equip their armed forces with Rafales. With a defense budget expected to reach 9.7 billion dollars by 2028, with a focus on air capabilities, Indonesia is clearly demonstrating its intention to play a key role in regional stability and global security.
The Rafale is a twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by the French company Dassault Aviation. It was primarily developed for the French Air Force and Navy, with the first fighter aircraft entering service with the French Navy in 2004 and the French Air Force in 2006.
The aircraft can function as an attack or bomber platform. It can be equipped with various weapons, including Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM, and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, as well as Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick, and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles, and Exocet/AM39, Penguin 3, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. It is also armed with a twin-gun pod and a Nexter 30mm DEFA 791B cannon, along with laser designation pods for laser-guided air-to-ground missiles.
Powered by two Snecma M88-2 turbofans, each providing 50.04 kN (11,250 lbf) of thrust dry, and 75 kN (17,000 lbf) with afterburner, the Rafale has a gross weight of 15,000 kg and a maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 kg. It can reach a maximum speed of 2,223 km/h and has a maximum combat range of 1,850 km.
The purchase of the Rafale came amid rising tensions in the region, especially in the South China Sea, where China has been asserting its expansive claims over the disputed waters.