Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pakistan offers JF-17 jet to Indonesian Military

Pakistan Defense Minister Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar offers his Indonesian counterpart the latest jet fighter called the JF-17 during his visit to Jakarta on Wednesday.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro responded to the offer, saying that further discussion would be conducted in October.

Minister Mukhtar was here to sign the Defense Cooperation Agreement between the two countries at the Defense Ministry.

“We will see it first before we decide if we have an interest in purchasing the aircraft,” Purnomo said.

He said the JF-17 jet fighter was the product of a joint production between Pakistan and China. The manufacturers claimed the jet to be cheaper and stronger than the US F-16.

Purnomo said he learned there had been 500 JF-17 jet fighters produced; 350 are allocated for Pakistan and the remaining 150 are for China.

“I have been informed that Pakistan’s jet fighter’s level is above the US F-16 jet fighter, as well as Russia’s Sukhoi. But we need to see it first hand,” he said.

Minister Mukhtar said the jet fighter project was a result of years of engineering improvements that was made by the Pakistan defense industry back home.

“We have developed our defense industry properly, we have prepared for those who plan to disrupt our peace,” he said.

Pakistan Ambassador to Indonesia Sanaullah, who also attended the press conference, promoted the product, saying the aircraft had met the requirements to be used by the Indonesian military.

The Defense Ministry is currently developing its own jet fighter project with South Korea. Dubbed the KFX project, the project is aimed at providing both countries with five jet fighter prototypes before 2020.

Mass production of the KFX jet fighter is expected to take place after the project reaches its break-even point of 200 aircraft units.

Bhatara Ibnu Reza, Imparsial’s research coordinator, warned that the Indonesian military should prioritize the improvement of its own defense industry.

He said if offers like that from Pakistan contributed to the reinforcement of the country’s defense industry, then Imparsial suggested Indonesia take advantage of it.

“I strongly suggest that we pay serious attention to rebuilding our defense industry so it becomes a strong backbone for the future,” he told The Jakarta Post.

In addition to offering the jet fighter, the Pakistan defense minister also tightened cooperation in the field of education and sharing intelligence on counterterrorism.

Both countries have also planned to conduct a joint naval exercise in December this year.

“We face similar internal security problems here. Therefore cooperation will enable us to tackle these problems,” he said.

The Pakistani defense minister visit is the latest, after China’s Central Military Commissioner, Guo Boxiong, visited the country in May.

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