Subject: Repulika: Military facing problems due to US embargo

BBC Monitoring International Reports

February 5, 2002


Source: Republika, Jakarta, in Indonesian 5 Feb 02

Padang, Republika Online: Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) spokesman Air Vice Marshal Graito Usodo said that up to now they had only received spare parts for Hercules transport planes after the lifting of the US arms embargo, which had been applied following the conflict in East Timor.

"The US embargo which has been in force since 25 September 2001 has been lifted for the provision of Hercules spare parts, however US produced military equipment which has been categorised as weapons of death and support systems was still not allowed to be sold to Indonesia," he said in Padang on Monday (4 February).

According to him, the embargo had clearly caused problems for Indonesia in the supply and maintenance of military equipment and it had highlighted the high dependency on the US for weaponry.

To overcome that, added Graito, TNI had carried out a study by making moves towards efficiency and applying a scale of priorities as to which equipment was most important to their requirements.

For example, Indonesia has 10 US produced F-16 jetfighters, but only half of them can be categorized as airworthy, combat ready and can be armed.

"We are forced to prepare and make the best of half the total strength of Air Force F-16s. This is considered better than having all of our aircraft with only half serviceability and capability," he said.

When asked why TNI did not change it's arms supplier to another country such as Russia, Graito said that TNI had not considered that yet and the dependence on the US was still very high.

"We have not yet considered changing our arms supplier to Russia because the technology of the Eastern European countries arms production is still too complex for Indonesia as there are basic technical problems which cannot be overcome in the short term," he said.

When asked why the US was still applying the embargo, Graito said ask them (the US, editor) why ask him, but it should be noted that the US had linked the embargo to what TNI were doing whilst they were still involved in East Timor.

With reference to what attempts Indonesia had made to end the US embargo totally, he said that it was being continued through negotiations by the Department of Foreign Affairs, not by TNI, but so far they had only managed to lift the embargo on Hercules aircraft.

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