Indonesia Signs Deal With France to Acquire 42 Rafale Warplanes

Indonesia inked an $8.1 billion deal with France on Thursday to acquire 42 Rafale fighter jets, France’s defense ministry said, as Paris seeks to bolster military ties in the Indo-Pacific region after losing a submarine deal with Australia last year.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly announced the deal on Twitter during her visit to Indonesia on Thursday, stating that it “will benefit from the deepening of our defense relations.”

“France is proud to contribute to the modernization of the armed forces of our partner, which plays a key role within ASEAN and in the Indo-Pacific,” Parly said.

Indonesia is the second country in the region to acquire the Rafale alongside India.

Six Rafale fighter jets will be delivered to Indonesia in the first phase of the deal, with the remaining 36 delivered later this year or next year, according to a French defense ministry official.

The agreement will make Indonesia France’s largest military procurement client in Southeast Asia, which is currently ranked second after Singapore.

“I hope that defense partnerships aren’t just focused on munition purchases, but also keeping in mind the development and joint production, technological transfer, and investment in defense industries,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo told reporters.

Parly said that Indonesia is also partnering with France on the development of submarines, which is expected to culminate in an order for two French-built “Scorpene” vessels.

France lost a multibillion-dollar submarine deal with Australia last year, following the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom—namely the AUKUS pact—under which the two countries will help Australia build nuclear-powered submarines.

France called the cancellation of the deal—valued at $40 billion in 2016—a stab in the back and recalled its ambassadors from the United States and Australia.

When asked if the developments surrounding the AUKUS alliance and the failed Australian submarine deal influenced negotiations with Indonesia, the French defense ministry official responded, “I don’t think so, neither in one way nor the other.” [Reuters]

“We have an Indo-Pacific strategy, we have the determination to maintain our defense industry and thus to export,” the official said.

Indonesia had previously expressed concern over the AUKUS pact and emphasized the importance of Australia’s commitment to continue meeting all of its nuclear non-proliferation obligations, urging Australia and other relevant parties to advance in a dialogue.

“Indonesia calls on Australia to maintain its commitment towards regional peace, stability, and security in accordance with the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation,” the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement last September.

Reuters contributed to this report.


Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.

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