Indonesia Could Be First Non-USAF Customer for F-15EX

Indonesia plans to buy the Boeing F-15EX, expecting to take delivery by 2022, according to press reports from Jakarta. If Indonesia follows through, it would be the first sale of the new F-15 configuration beyond the U.S. Air Force, which has not yet accepted its first fighter.

The Anadolu news service quoted Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Fajar Prasetyo, speaking at an Indonesian air force leadership meeting, as saying his country will buy 36 new French Rafale fighters and eight F-15EX fighters, along with upgrades for the country’s other combat aircraft. Plans also call for purchase of C-130 transports and a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned combat air vehicle. 

However, “The implementation is very dependent on various factors and conditions that keep changing dynamically,” Prasetyo said, adding that the various parts of government and the defense ministry are working to address affordability issues.

The purchases are meant to address operational requirements, obsolescing equipment, the need for commonality with other air forces, and technology transfer, Prasetyo said.

Indonesia fields a fleet of about 72 combat aircraft, including 33 F-16s— a mix of A/B and C/D models—five Su-27, 11 Su-30 and 23 Hawk 200s. All the aircraft date back to the 1990s or earlier, but 10 of the oldest F-16s have been updated. 

A Boeing spokeswoman could not confirm the planned purchase, but said “we remain confident in the F-15EX’s suitability for Indonesia, given its unmatched range, payload, and performance.” She did confirm, however, that all future sales of new F-15s will carry the designator F-15EX. Over the past 30 years, export F-15s have borne a designator specific to the export nation; e.g., F-15SA for Saudi Arabia, F-15QA for Qatar, F-15I for Israel, etc. From now on, though, the designation will be “F-15EX across the board,” the spokeswoman said.

The U.S. Air Force will take delivery of its first F-15EX fighter within “the next couple of weeks,” the Boeing spokeswoman said, and the second one “by the end of March.” A rollout/delivery ceremony is slated to take place at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in early April. Operational testing of the first two aircraft at Eglin is to begin in the spring, and the two initial test jets will be joined by six more in the next few years.

The Air Force plans to buy about 144 F-15EX through the late 2020s, to replace F-15C/D aircraft that are rapidly aging out of the inventory. The new aircraft feature fly-by-wire flight controls, an additional two weapon stations, and the EPAWSS electronic warfare system. However, the EPAWSS is not being made available for export.