Arientha Primanita & Ismira Lutfia
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro confirmed on Wednesday reported plans to buy 16 T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jets from South Korea.
The deal, which could be worth up to $400 million, as reported by Yonhap News, would be the first export order for the South Korean-made product.
The new jets would replace the Air Force’s British-made Hawk MK‑53 trainer jets.
“One of our considerations is to strengthen our jet squadron,” he told reporters at the Vice Presidential Palace.
South Korea and Indonesia have maintained close defense relations for years.
In 2008, Seoul signed a $90 million deal with Jakarta to buy four CN 235-110 transport planes for its coast guard. In July, Indonesia signed on to a multimillion dollar South Korean project to develop the KF-X fighter jet.
However, allegations of espionage by members of South Korea’s spy agency to steal information on possible arms deals between the countries have threatened to derail relations.
During an official visit for talks on economic cooperation in February, including the possible purchase of the T-50 Golden Eagle jets and other weapons systems, the hotel room of the Indonesian delegation was broken into.
Jakarta flatly denied claims that Indonesian defense secrets were stolen during the break-in, but it said it had asked South Korea to verify reports its intelligence officers were involved.
Michael Tene, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Wednesday that Seoul authorities had not yet provided any updates on the results of a probe into the incident.
Previous deals to sell T-50 jets to the United Arab Emirates and Singapore fell through because the price was too high.
The jets, which cost $22 million each, are at least 10 percent more expensive than rival products from Italy.
Additional reporting from Bloomberg