Yep. Upgrade the existing F-16s to V, perhaps add some more, & supplement them with TA-50 or maybe FA-50. Indonesia has very few aircraft considering its size. A few high-end aircraft can't cover the country.
I think it also needs more maritime surveillance aircraft.
Those airframes are getting pretty old now. Does it still make sense to upgrade 30 something year old aircraft to that extent? How many times can you zero out those airframes? There has to be a point where fatigue is going to catch up with them.
I believe they know very well. However whether they know and they implement is another matter.
Let me summarize the selection so far.
By end of previous admin, it's been decided there'll be more F-16 needed and there's a need for F-5 replacement. The F-16 needed as additional from the existing two squadron (from 90's procurement plus additional upgrade ex USAF ones). It's also talk on replacement for Hawk 200 LIFT/LCA.
First term of current administration that when everything going sideways. The plan F-5 replacement supposedly going to Su-35, and additional two sq of F-16 being selected by Indonesian AF on technical matter with F-16V. However the process going round and round for several matters, but most importantly due to incompetent first term MinDef process.
Then in this second term, they begin with assessment of Su-35 and F-16V. Due to CAATSA (but I do believe on other matter related to some suspicion on previous term procurement process), they change Su-35 and ask for F-35 to US as compensation to drop it. US seems counter over with offering F-18 Shornet of F-15E. Indonesia then ask for F-15EX.
As for F-16V, their assessment ask for double engine class and come out with Eurofighter and Rafale. The talk with Austria on second hand Eurofighter are part of triangle discussion with Airbus, Indonesian MinDef and Austria. The Austrian fighters being discussed as part of combo new and used Eurofighter deal.
However seems after their internal assessment, one reason to another, they prefer Rafale rather than Eurofighter. Some sources told this related to Indonesian Administration preference on dealing with French rather has to talk with consortium of Nation's on Eurofighter deal.
In meantime US still fight for F-16V and doing another round of Lobby. The 'air cosmos' link in my previous post shown that French team are very concern on this. This in my opinion because they know how influential US lobby in Indonesia. Dasault already lost twice in the 80's during fighters process between Mirage 2000 vs F-16A/B in 80's and in 70's when F-5 beat Mirage III. So they have justifiable concerned with power of US Lobby.
Even if French Defense Minister Parly and her counterpart Prabowo already sign preliminary contract, it's still many conditions precedent need to be agreed upon in details before the contract can be effective.
Whether F-16V still can cut Rafale as LM done that in 80's against Dasault, or Indonesian MinDef decided to drop F-15E with F-16V packages (more likely due to cost-budget consideration) both still can happen.
So they know how to do proper assessment on fighters capabilities and supporting assessment. Whether those assessment (doing mostly by Mid Level officers) will be chosen by the Senior high ranking brass and MinDef, is another matter.
The latest part involved Political consideration, Financial Schemes Consideration, and related packages that can involved Trade, Investment on tech access, and Political 'Ego'. That's in the area where technical consideration making less priority.
On the F-15EX, I can see the US "steering" away from such a purchase to protect the Indonesian defense wallet. But it seems more likely to me that they have no intention to sell them to Indonesia at all and this is a way to let them down without hurting feelings. Why do I think this? Because the F-15EX will be a top of the line front line aircraft for the USAF and Indonesia is not a top of the line kind of friend with the US, unlike say Japan which is a very close ally or Saudi Arabia which is a very rich ally, Indonesia is neither. I've always seen the whole F-15EX thing as a feather that someone on the Indonesian side wanted in their cap, rather than something that was ever seriously considered from the US side. Also because strategically it makes absolutely no sense to put so much information on a high tier asset out in the world for selling a paltry 12 airframes, I see no up side for the US in that deal.
The SU-35 is something that the TNI AU could buy, but it would be just as much of a disaster as their current Sukhoi's are. Are they really "dropping" the SU-35 deal and do they need to be compensated for this? I believe what you're saying @Ananda
, and I believe that Indonesian negotiators may have put it that way to the Americans. But if I was on the American side I would've laughed in your face. I would say "go ahead buy your Flankers"! Say goodbye to your ToT and useful offsets and get ready for availability problems and shit support...
As I see it, the Rafale is the best option for the TNI AU as it stands. There's a lot of industrial relations with France already and Indonesia's a proven customer for the French. And as @Ananda
alluded to, France is a one stop shop for defense procurement. Unlike with the Typhoon, France sells the Rafale with all the bells and whistles. You can get a decent complement of modern weaponry without having to shop around, and without having to deal with for example Germany who has more scruples about whom they sell weapons to
Ultimately what reading @Ananda
and @Sandhi Yudha
's replies have taught me is that defense procurement in Indonesia suffers from similar kind of problems that can also be seen in countries like Malaysia, Thailand and India. First is a bureaucratic system that is too large and too politicized and (dare I say) too susceptible to corruption. Which makes procurement more a contest between bureaucrats and politicians for recognition, feathers in caps, political and more dubious gains, in stead of a process that serves to provide the military with the best equipment that they can afford.
This also means as @Ananda
describes above that every new clique that holds the reigns needs to have new plans with their name on it that satisfies their own members. Pats the right people on the back and favors the people that need to be favored for this particular club of people to maintain their power. In these sorts of environments you end up with an air force that operates a bunch of different types but not enough of any one type to really make sense in the real world.
Not to be down on the TNI AU or anything, but it won't get better until they realize a number of things.
1. TNI AU should operate politically on behalf of the TNI AU. There should be no room for individual interests and the service should stand as one, so that at least within the organization the noses are pointed in the same direction.
2. The TNI AU should establish a long term vision and stick to this vision across different political administrations.
3. The TNI AU should fight on the political playing field to realize the vision as they have established it. And (I know this is difficult) they should not accept all kind of adventures pushed onto them from the outside.
What does this mean realistically? It's simple, when some bureaucrat is promised a new villa with an order of Osprey's and starts making waves in the media they should say "NO! This is the plan and that is not part of it".
I understand that most people in defense would gladly accept any materiel they can get their hands on because politicians are stingy and defense is unpopular at the best of times. But at some point we need to think about what's best for the organization in the long run.