Indonesia orders six Rafale jets from France

Indonesia orders six Rafale jets from France

In this file photo taken on May 19, 2019, a French Rafale fighter jet is seen at an air force base in Blang Bintang, Aceh province, Indonesia. (Photo: AFP)
In this file photo taken on May 19, 2019, a French Rafale fighter jet is seen at an air force base in Blang Bintang, Aceh province, Indonesia. (Photo: AFP)

Indonesia signed a deal with France Thursday to buy six Rafale warplanes as part of an anticipated total order of 42, Jakarta's defence minister said, as Paris bolsters military ties in the Asia-Pacific.

"We agreed on the purchase of 42 Rafale. The contract signed today is for the first six, which will be followed by 36 others," said Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly, who is currently on a trip to Indonesia, confirmed in a tweet that Indonesia will order 42 Rafale fighter jets.

"It's official: Indonesia orders 42 Rafales", she said in a tweet on Thursday, adding that the order would make Indonesia the second state in the region to rely on the jet produced by Dassault Aviation.

Dassault Aviation said the deal marked the start of a long-term partnership and would allow it to rapidly step up its presence in the Pacific country.

The deal comes as Paris, which views itself as a global maritime power, seeks to expand its geopolitical ties in the Indo-Pacific to react to the creation of a new strategic alliance between the United States, Britain and Australia.

"Indonesia also commits to cooperation with our industry in the sector of submarines," added Parly, referring to an area deemed as particularly sensitive after Australia cancelled a multi-billion submarine deal with Paris in September last year, causing a major diplomatic rift.

"Our strategic partnership will benefit from the deepening of our defence relations," added Parly, commenting on the deal with Indonesia.

It was the latest sign of warming ties between Jakarta and Paris, as France rethinks its alliances in the region following the collapse of the submarine deal.

Paris was left furious by the debacle, saying it had been given no warning that Canberra was negotiating a new defence pact with the US and Britain, named AUKUS.

Indonesia's first order for French warplanes comes as Jakarta replaces an ageing fleet -- consisting mainly of American F-16s and Russian Sukhois -- amid growing concerns about rising US-China tensions in Asia.

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