US Hopes Apache Sales Will Keep Indonesia on Side

By Jakarta Globe on 12:40 pm Aug 27, 2013
Category Crime, Featured, News
An AH-64 Apache from the US Army's 101st Aviation Regiment in Iraq. Wikimedia Commons

An AH-64 Apache from the US Army’s 101st Aviation Regiment in Iraq. (Wikimedia Commons Photo).

[Updated on Aug. 27, 12:40 p.m.]

Indonesia will buy eight Apache attack helicopters off the United States, it was announced on Monday, as US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta in what analysts said was a diplomatic bid to check the rise of China.

During the meeting, Yudhoyono said that Indonesia-US cooperation could enhance the prosperity of both nations, as well as have important implications for the peace and stability of Asia, according to a spokesman.

The world’s largest economy is in the process of shifting resources in Asia and the Pacific as part of a “pivot” with a view to the emergence of China.

“We are strengthening our bilateral ties and our cooperation in the region,” Yudhoyono said on Monday.

Both statesman said the Asia-Pacific region was an engine of global economic growth, underscoring the importance of peace and stability in the region, including a peaceful resolution to South China Sea territorial disputes.

“South China Sea is part of … the larger picture of relations in the region,” said Teuku Faizasyah, Yudhoyono’s spokesman for international affairs.

Hagel, for whom Jakarta was the second stop on a week-long four-nation trip that began in Malaysia on Saturday, voiced US appreciation for Yudhoyono’s leadership, which he said contributed to regional stability.

“I bring you greetings from President [Barack] Obama,” Hagel told Yudhoyono at the start of their meeting.

Hagel said the US president was “looking forward to seeing you in October,” referring to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders meeting in Bali.

The defense secretary added that Washington was committed to “deepening and strengthening” ties between the two countries.

Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia and has called for improved ties with the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, which has embraced democracy since the downfall of dictator Suharto in 1998.

The United States has gradually expanded cooperation with Indonesia’s military over several years, even while voicing concerns about the country’s human rights record.

US officials say the Indonesian military has improved its human rights practices and that Washington has an interest in expanding cooperation on counter-terrorism.

The US tilt to Asia is driven in part by the region’s growing economic importance and concerns over China’s expanding military might.

Several analysts said that Monday’s announcement of the sale of the eight Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopters in a deal worth $500 million (including radar, training and maintenance), was part of a broader effort to persuade Indonesia to maintain its position as US friend amid the rise of China.

“I think the US needs to keep Indonesia close. And offering military equipment is one way to do it,” said Aleksius Jemadu, dean of Pelita Harapan University’s social and political science department.

Officials confirmed that the sale represented the culmination of more than a year of behind-the-scenes work by Indonesia, which saw the helicopters as a key part of a wider plan to modernize its weaponry.

A 14-person delegation, including Army Chief Gen. Moeldoko and Defense Ministry Secretary General Lt. Gen. Budiman, traveled last week to a Boeing factory in Arizona to inspect the aircraft.

On meeting the Indonesian delegation, Boeing business development manager Dave Bostrum said the deal was important to the evolution of the Indonesian military. “The Apache is expected to be a key part of Indonesia’s continuing efforts to improve its strategic defense capabilities,” he said.

When it first emerged that Indonesia wanted to acquire the helicopters, two human rights groups — The East Timor Action Network and West Papua Advocacy Team — wrote to the US Congress expressing their opposition to the sale.

Indonesia’s defense preparedness has lagged in recent years, with econ o mic problems preventing the country from maintaining or upgrading its military equipment. During his first term, Yudhoyono slashed defense purchases to free up money for economic and social policies, but he later increased the defense budget.

For 2014, defense allocations stand at Rp 83 trillion ($7.65 billion), the largest share of any government program.

Beside bilateral and regional issues, Yudhoyono and Hagel also discussed global issues — including the conflicts in Syria and Egypt— where Indonesia may play a role. The US has indicated it is preparing for military action in Syria.

“The president expressed Indonesia’s position on Syria and Egypt,” Faizasyah said.

After meeting with Yudhoyono, Hagel met with Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro in a follow-up to talks held recently at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Hagel will head to Brunei today for a regional defense gathering that will include China. On Thursday he will fly to the Philippines, his final stop.

Additional reporting from AFP & Reuters


  • haze

    Wrong move ! Should purchase the ” Water-Copters ” that can help deal with Haze-problems instead of Apaches copters as Indonesia had no real enemy but only internal threat from the Islamic Extremists.

  • 2star

    Today US is selling every thing to anybody … because of her ailing economy. As long as you got money … US is willing to give you at a bargain price. Kind of a warehouse sales… lock stock and barrel.

    US is now surviving on the Fed monthly loans of $87 billions, meaning each day US need $2.9 billions or 2,900 millions. So for a $500 million deals … which means it can only lasts for around 4 hours of expenditures.

    • Dirk

      Why “today”? Weapons manufacturers have played a huge role in the US economy and its foreign policy since WW II.

  • lanun

    Some of you may have reached an age where your train of thought often leaves the station without you .:))

    • Ormaskills

      I see your mouth is open 22, your lips still move, but the evidence once again is that Mr Brain has long since departed

      add ageist offensive comments to the list of 22′s posted comments designed to insult

      congrats again webEd

  • Sing Sitizen

    Soon the way your economy is going they will be needing those helicopters and tanks to put down the popular uprising, of course ORMAS will be a useful tool to allow random acts of TNI violence., but then they have not needed a law to do the same for decades
    I see the new head has told SBY the TNI will (not might) have a broader role in Indonesia. Sissi revisited? fake democracy? Wonder how long before SBY needs a medical check up in Belize?

    As I said before ‘come on have a go if you think you are hard enough’

    • Jakartans

      If Indonesian economy is doomed as you’re implying, multinational companies (including Singaporean), wouldn’t be lining at our doorstep to make investment.

  • Justice4all

    hahahaha before I open this article I have already guess that all of the critics for this purchase are always related to human rights matters.

  • Justice4all

    Human rights is always the issue when it comes to the Indonesian military. At least they do not take sides with the Muslim extremists.

  • Pelan2

    “Obamaland” has 18 million people on food stamps. They need to sell a lot and quickly..

  • DanielKaimana

    I am curious actually. Why does Indonesia need those Appache? Attacking/defending from whom? The most potential threat I suppose is only from Australia and Malaysia. But I am very much doubt Australia and Malaysia even dare to incite anything. Other ASEAN countries (I mean proper countries such as Thai, Vietnam, Cambodia and so on) do not seem as a threat. Sorry but I do not count the boy scout from that tiny city.. Not even worth to mention it when it comes to regional security. So, the question is, for what? Defending from China? Really??

  • Bowo

    Yeah you’re right about timor leste, the occupation was a mistake to begin with.
    But I just want to remind that countries that we for decades consider as partner, friend, ally etc. Would readily turn their back on us and even spit on our face if they think they can get away with it.
    In 1998 our economy and military is in crumble, and when they think Indonesia would never get up again, they’re doing whatever they can to hasten the collapse and salvage whatever they can from the ruins.
    If you think we haven’t got any potential threat, I think you’re too naive.

  • FMN

    You can prove this “you can beat helicopters with almost nothing” when the Apache arrives, don’t forget to upload to Youtube yaw, we’ll be waiting.

    A nation doesn’t need to feed its citizen. Any social security/safety program will do. Every citizen/parent needs to work hard and feed own-self, pay taxes too. Quit waiting for handouts and expect to be spoon-fed

    When invaders landed at your doorstep, your “poetic semantics” won’t save you.

  • Valkyrie1604

    MW, simple geopolitics but it sounds okay to me. Merah Putih has always been answering to his master’s voice. Haven’t you noticed that every (except big ‘S’) paid first homage to uncle Sam soon after taking office?

  • besidanapi

    no we won’t. it business as usual.

  • DanielKaimana

    Don’t worry, I’m just grumbling… As I said, it’s a long long long way to go.. I heard this actually from an adviser of a wannabe leader.. But I know it’s like a day dreaming.. given the mess of this country NOW.. But yes, you’re right for some points..

    But I think there is an explanation of the rise of city.. Other than education, the explanation is that if you look at the value chain of things, middle man, sales persons, or coyotes if not mistaken in South America or tauke in Asia, always where the money goes. It’s like the farmers who plant the coffee but the middle men who profit off.. I’m not saying it’s wrong.. That’s how things work, isn’t it? But things change as well to be fair, don’t they?

    What I want to offer actually is about a different angle to view between having advanced military equipment and its correlation to capability of a country in a war. Having most advanced equipment is not a main and solely determinant factor when it comes to a war, real war. I gave an example of western military in Afghanistan in other post. And in case of the city experience in real war, none.. That’s what I want to highlight and that’s my main argument. But again, I could be wrong.. And this argument, unfortunately, could be easily twisted into something completely different arena.. But that’s the whole point anyway..

    So yes, I would not agree if TNI or Indonesian government has a hidden plan to erase the red dot in the map… Nope.. I do not even to think to go for a war to other country, say Malaysia for instance.. I do not see it as a threat.. Even in case of China and US at the moment… It’s like a suicidal action for both parties. As you said, it’s time to enjoy the peaceful of Nusantara where engine of world economy runs… At the very least, at the time being and few years ahead…

    Shalom my brother!!!