Indonesia inks deal for 42 Rafale fighters with France
“We agreed on the purchase of 42 Rafale. The contract signed today is for the first six, which 36 others will follow,” said Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto as he met with his French counterpart, Florence Parly.
The first phase of the purchase, consisting of six Rafale planes, will be completed in the coming months, with the remaining 36 delivered later, either late this year or next year. In addition to the fighter jets, Indonesia has signed a letter of understanding to collaborate on submarine development, culminating in orders for two Scorpene vessels made by Naval Group, according to the French defence ministry.
The agreement comes as Paris, which sees itself as a global maritime power, tries to expand geopolitical connections in the Indo-Pacific following the formation of AUKUS, a new strategic alliance by the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia last year.
Following Australia's abandonment of a multibillion-dollar submarine agreement with Paris last year, which accused its friends of backstabbing, the subject is sensitive for France.
Indonesia is one of several Asian countries that expressed concerns about the AUKUS pact. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi warned that it could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region. However, Indonesia’s defence minister has said he understood why the alliance was formed.
Indonesia is reportedly negotiating to buy about 30 American F-15s and is participating in the Republic of Korea’s indigenous fighter development programme.