Indonesia scraps US$790 million plan to buy second-hand jets from Qatar

Indonesia has ditched a controversial plan to buy 733 million euros (US$790 million) worth of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets previously used by Qatar, the defence ministry said.

“There is no purchase of Mirage jets. Even though it was planned, it has been cancelled … meaning there is no active contract,” spokesman Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak said in a statement late on Saturday, but did not elaborate.

Last month, the ministry said the deal to purchase the 12 fighter jets had been delayed due to fiscal constraints and that the military would order a retrofit for its existing Sukhoi and F-16 aircraft instead.

Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto at an election rally on Saturday. He has been criticised about the Mirage deal by rival candidates during campaigning for the presidential polls. Photo: AP

The planned purchase garnered controversy when it was announced last year, as lawmakers said the second-hand jets were old.

Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, the front runner to win Indonesia’s presidential election on Wednesday, has been criticised about the deal by rival candidates during campaigning.

But he defended the purchase during one of the presidential debates, saying the second-hand jets were still good for another 15 years and were needed while the country waits for its new jets to arrive.

Prabowo has overseen the military’s efforts to modernise its ageing fleet, which include purchases of Rafale fighter jets, drones from Turkish Aerospace and fighter jets and transport helicopters from US companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

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