Making rational choices in fighter procurement — Part 1
I know this might be heresy in the TNI AU, but why keep operating two front line fighter types? I don't see how operating both Rafale and F-16's would be better than just operating one of these types. Just run out the hours on the F-16's and those weapon stocks and build real numbers of Rafale's in the mean time. In an ideal world the TNI AU should be operating hundreds of frontline fighters.
1. I don’t understand your reasoning. The original plan was for a high-low mix.
2. As others have explained, Indonesia can’t afford in any significant numbers a twin engine fleet — be it a Dassault Rafale or the F-15EX. The transition to a single type will not occur.
3. From a per flight hour, operating cost standpoint, the F-15EX is even more expensive due to the need to train a WSO, on top of the pilot. But the really expensive part is the EW, pods and weapons (like anti-radiation missiles, anti-ship missiles, and all sorts of specialist pods, like UTC Aerospace’s DB-110, that make the sniper pod look cheap) to be operated by the pilot and WSO. If Indonesia can’t afford to maintain and operate these gadgets, buying any is a wrong choice.
4. What’s with Alman Helvas’ strong support for the French lobby against TNI AU’s prior declared wishes? IMO, Indonesia’s Air Force is being forced to accept the plan to buy 36 Dassault Rafale (with the need to buy 80 engines, catering for 4 spares) due to political interference by the French via Prabowo Subianto — it’s not the other way round. Even if Alman Helvas accuse Americans of lobbying, it’s only Lockheed Martin, as Boeing is only too keen to sell F-15EXs.
5. In my unsourced opinion from reading this thread, Prabowo Subianto’s gang just needs to pocket the commissions from various arms deals (as long as it is not from the US) — to fund his next election. Buying American fighters, missiles and bombs, through FMS means there is no scope for corruption for his gang.
6. If they are serious about air power and sortie generation, Indonesia should buy more F-16Vs and place an order for 66 F-16Vs like Taiwan, along with an order for 250 to 500 missiles (eg. 150 AIM-120Ds, 150 AIM-9X, 75 AGM-154A/B/Cs, 75 AGM-88E HARMs, and 50 Harpoon missiles), and all sorts of specialist pods that make the sniper pod look cheap.
(a) Without 500 to 1,000 missiles in the inventory, the TNI AU can’t decide to fight a PLA(N) task group — even if they decide to ram TNI AL ships as part of their escalation plans. This weapon inventory must include not only anti-ship missiles but also AGM-88E anti radiation missiles to force PLA(N) destroyers to turn-off their radars. The PLA(N) has bases in the South China Sea and big deck assault carriers — which means Indonesia also needs the range and weapons effects provided by AGM-158 JASSM.
(b) The best weapons are useless unless you have ISR to see the target from a far. Without the DB-110 recce pod (which the Taiwanese and UAE have), a TNI AU commander can’t move towards a more persistent ISR capability (through increased on-station time, and real-time image exploitation) to monitor Chinese bases and PLA(N) destroyers in the South China Sea, just out of range of their anti-air missiles.
7. To send a message of deterrence, the TNI AU needs ISR and be equipped with both the fighter and its missiles; and its instructor pilots and crew chiefs must be trained, to arm the weapons, to enable pilots to fly the relevant profiles to launch these missiles, so that the weapons can be employed correctly. By buying French fighters, Indonesia has to spend on new, great, incomparable and incompatible missiles to their existing F-16C fleet — I have nothing against the Dassault Rafale as a fighter, the SPECTRA integrated electronic warfare suite or French/European weapons (eg. Exocet missile, MBDA’s Meteor, MICA, AASM HAMMER, and SCALP EG missiles).