In a first-of-its-kind deal worth about $500 million, the United States has agreed to sell eight new Apache AH-64E attack helicopters and Longbow radars to Indonesia, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here today.
Hagel announced the deal during a joint news conference with Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro after productive meetings this afternoon with Yusgiantoro and earlier today with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The secretary is visiting Indonesia as part of an eight-day, four-nation trip that has included a stop in Malaysia and will take him this week to Brunei and the Philippines.
“Providing Indonesia these world-class helicopters is an example of our commitment to help build Indonesia’s military capability,” Hagel said.
The U.S. military will train Indonesian pilots and help in developing tactics, techniques and procedures for operating in the Southeast Asian security environment, a senior defense official said, adding that details of the delivery and training timeline are being determined.
The agreement represents a significant advance in military capabilities by a key U.S. partner and is the sort of investment the United States believes is prudent to support security in the Asia-Pacific region, the official said.
The new capability “will help Indonesia respond to a range of contingencies, including counterpiracy operations and maritime awareness,” he added.
“The United States is committed to working with Southeast Asian nations to grow defense capabilities and deepen military-to-military cooperation with all of our partners,” the official said.
During the news conference with Yusgiantoro, Hagel said it has been impressive to watch a democratic Indonesia emerge as one of the most important contributors to peace and prosperity, not only in Asia, but also globally.
“Helping ensure the region’s security and prosperity is a goal the United States strongly shares,” the secretary said. “The strong and enduring security partnership that has been built between the United States and Indonesia is a relationship the United States greatly values.”
Hagel said President Barack Obama looks forward to his October visit to Indonesia and to deepening ties between the two countries.
Progress on security includes increasingly complex exercises between the two militaries, and growing defense, trade and high-level policy engagement, the secretary added.
The two militaries recently launched an initiative to share best practices in defense planning and management to increase Indonesian military capability, Hagel said, and next month the United States and Indonesia will cohost a counterterrorism exercise under the framework of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus.
ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose 10 member states are Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Defense ministers from these nations attend the annual ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting, or ADMM. And the ADMM-Plus is made up of ASEAN members and eight dialogue partners: the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand and Russia. This year’s ADMM-Plus meeting will be start tomorrow in Brunei.
Hagel said the United States welcomes Indonesia’s leadership in promoting regional security cooperation through ASEAN and regional forums such as the East Asia Summit.
“The United States is committed to further strengthening the U.S.-ASEAN relationship and I look forward to meeting with my counterparts this week at the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting- Plus in Brunei to address the many security challenges we face in this region,” he said.
Developing long-term and enduring solutions to challenges like maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, counterterrorism, and the peaceful management of disputes in the South China Sea calls for greater cooperation and respect for rules and norms among all parties and the institutions that underpin them, the secretary noted.
“I am also pleased to be able to announce that the U.S. and Indonesia have pledged mutual support and cooperation on the search and recovery of U.S. personnel missing from World War II,” Hagel said.
Several Indonesian ministries have oversight of such requests, including defense, education and culture, and research and technology. All have agreed to process future requests from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a joint task force within the Defense Department whose mission is to account for Americans listed as prisoners of war, or missing in action, from all past wars and conflicts.
The United States believes that about 1,800 U.S. personnel are still missing in action from World War II in the waters and lands of Indonesia, a senior defense official said, adding that while not all are recoverable, current research indicates that hundreds ultimately may be found and brought home.
“The United States commitment to this effort is important to our personnel serving today,” Hagel said, “to make clear that we stand by our pledge to leave no one behind.”