Subject: Indonesia Plans to Buy U.S.-Made Hercules Planes

also: AP - Indonesia to Buy U.S. Military Equipment

Indonesia Plans to Buy U.S.-Made Hercules Planes

JAKARTA, Nov. 25 (Reuters): Indonesia plans to buy Hercules planes from the United States as early as January following the resumption of full military ties with Washington, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said on Friday.

The U.S. restored military ties and lifted an arms embargo on the world's most populous Muslim nation this week as a reward for Jakarta's cooperation in the war on terrorism.

Human rights groups have slammed the U.S. move.

"...The Hercules meets the military's needs for a show of force as well as humanitarian needs to transport medicines," Juwono told a news conference.

Asked when the government would make the purchase, Juwono said: "It can be done as early as in January."

Ties were severed after pro-Jakarta militias backed by elements in the military sacked East Timor in 1999 when the territory voted for independence. The United Nations estimates the militias killed around 1,000 Timorese.

Before the embargo, Indonesia had 24 functioning Hercules but the number was now six, Juwono said, adding the country was hoping to get another three of its grounded Hercules operational in the next six months.

A U.S. move to ease restrictions on military cargo plane parts sales earlier this year had helped Indonesia to beef up its airlift capacity, Juwono added.

The U.S. eased those restrictions last January in order to assist the country in humanitarian efforts after the Dec. 26 tsunami which killed or left 170,000 Indonesians missing.

Washington's move comes despite objections from rights groups that say Jakarta has done too little to reform the military and bring it under civilian control since the downfall of the military-backed regime of ex-autocrat Soeharto in 1998.

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Associated Press

November 25, 2005

Indonesia to Buy U.S. Military Equipment

Indonesia plans to start buying military equipment from the United States in January following the lifting of an arms embargo, and will prioritize transport aircraft, the defense minister said Friday.

But the minister, Juwono Sudarsono, stressed that Indonesia would keep looking to other countries for its defense needs.

"We are still evaluating the best packages for our military equipment based on our budget," he said.

On Tuesday, Washington lifted a six-year embargo on arms sales to Indonesia.

Before the ban, which was imposed due to human rights concerns, the United States was Indonesia's largest supplier of weapons and equipment.

The embargo had left many of the country's Hercules transport planes grounded due to a lack of spare parts and forced Indonesia to look for other, cheaper suppliers of military hardware.

"As soon as possible we will count what equipment is needed, especially for the air force, so that at least by January we can start to buy military equipment from America," Sudarsono told reporters.

He said that the government planned to spend about 70 percent of its budget on transport planes "because they have nonmilitary functions such as moving medicine and relief aid in disaster areas."

Two years ago, Indonesia bought four Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia, with 12 more expected to be delivered in 2007.

The navy is purchasing two corvettes from Royal Schelde of the Netherlands and two years ago signed a letter of intent with South Korea to buy diesel-electric submarines.

The army has investigated the possibility of purchasing short-range missiles and armored personnel carriers from China and India.


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