A range of security-related agreements brokered between France and Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara (Indonesian National Army Air Force) in early 2022, have begun to come to fruition, with the Indo-Pacific nation receiving the second batch of 18 Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation. In total, 42 Rafales have been ordered. Aside from the French military, the twin-engine jet is also utilised by the Indian and Qatari Air Forces. Equipped with a variety of weapons, it is viewed as highly flexible in terms of its capabilities, including aerial reconnaissance, in-depth striking, anti-ship, and deep-air support (preventative tactical bombing).
According to Dassault, “the “omnirole” Rafale is a unique asset that will ensure Indonesia’s sovereignty and operational independence and reinforce its role as a major regional power.” Adding, “[the partnership] includes a complete “turnkey” solution as well as a substantial industrial return for the Indonesian aeronautical sector. Educational projects will also be launched as part of the technical training of aeronautical know-how.”
The deal comes as an important step for France, which has been pushing to increase its presence in the region after Australia signalled its intent to join the AUKUS trilateral security pact with The United States, and the United Kingdom. A key marker of the pact was the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines, a move which Indonesia claims is an unnecessary provocation in a region which is already marred by geopolitical tensions.