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1. Great Britain had demonstrated its strength in utilising fighter aircraft and the advancement of air radar defence to beat Germany’s invasion in the Battle of Britain 1940. Air power is also one of the important factors as US in winning the battle in Korea, Gulf War in Middle-East and Anaconda Operation in Afghanistan. Speaking about air power is not only about the combat aircraft, but also air defence radar, air transportation, air surveillance and reconnaissance, ground base air defence, combat medical, combat engineering, combat air patrol and air combat search and rescue.

2. Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world that extends around 1900 000 square kilometres with total of 17504 Islands. The Army and Navy are essential element for the defence of Indonesia; However, the hallmark of such air power, speed, reach and height bring the Air Force as an important role to to any battle in this modern era. In addition, if we look at the power of the Air Force of neighbouring countries, Indonesia seems left behind. They have modern air warfare supported by adequate parts, although, their region were not as big as Indonesia’s. To achieve objectives of the Force in the Archipelago, it is very important to evaluate the strength of the current National Air Power to maintain territorial integrity and sovereignty of Indonesia.


3. The aim of this paper is to provide an assessment of the National Air Power in Indonesia and to give some recommendations in enhancing the Indonesian Air Power in achieving the future Defence Force of Archipelago’s goals.


4. The world has been growing very quickly. Advancement in technology have led to strategic defence of the world in the power of the Air Force. Indonesia, as an island nation seemed to realize that they will be facing some modern threats such as, air piracy, National airspace violation and human trafficking by air. To deal with it, Indonesian Air Force should have some efforts to increased Air Power capability for National Air Security. Indonesian Air Force has considers to have high capability of air control as fundamental requirements in air defence of the 21st century (Subandrio, 2008: 29-30). Indonesian Air Force divided the control of air into three categories (Sunarwondo, 2011: 303), as follows:

a. Air parity is a condition of air war when either enemy or friendly forces have a similar power.
b. Air superiority is define as a characteristic of air battle whereby states can deploy its power over the enemy with a few losses of its own without any serious threat about foe’s capability and gain control of the airspace with its own power.
c. Air supremacy is an absolute control of the air, with minimal air losses of its own. The enemy cannot do any offensive mission.

5. In future, the world Air Power capability will be more complex as information technology, rapid reaction, flexibility and minimize air battle space of low or high intensity conflict has four characteristics of Air Power to be achieved. These four characteristics can be achieved if Indonesian Air Force has an adequate military budget, capable of maintaining safety in flight and work, ability to enhance national military industry and able to make a good relationships to other countries. So, the objectives of Indonesian Air power toward a future Defence Force of Archipelago can be achieved.


6. Thirteen years passed after the world economic crisis, Indonesian Air Force has only survived with inadequate asset that is insufficient to protect National sovereignty. Area of Indonesia is very vast, but so easy to be intruded and some of the violation of the State border caused by the lack of air power capabilities. To counter that, Indonesian Air Force realized the importance of strenghtening National Air Power to reach a better defence of the Islands. Now, Indonesia still deep in process for having a World Class Air Force.


7. The weakness of National Air Power as a front line as the nation defence has made few countries expanding their airspace in Indonesia’s territory. In order to find a new place for finding some new strategic places for them. Indonesia is a peaceful country, but Indonesia love sovereignty and independence. Here are few examples of areas of Indonesia plagued by other countries:
a. Bawean Incident. Bawean incident occurred in 2003, the where five F-18 aircraft belonging United States Marines entered Bawean area and perform unexpected Manouvere. They were detected by civilian-military coordination radar of Bali International Airport. This was made few civil aircraft concerned because they were flying on the civil aviation route in the same time and position. Then, Indonesian Air Defence Command ordered two F-16 planes of Madiun air base to identify the threat. After five F-18 aircraft of US Marine was identified, the plane was out to international waters. Flying over the sovereign area, US Marines should make a security report first. US as a superpower should be subject to the international law. So, civil aviation will not afraid to their manouvere (Indonesia’s MoD website: 2003).
b. Riau Islands Flight Information Region. Convention of International Aviation in Chicago mentions that, ‘The contracting States recognize that every State has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory’ (ICAO, 1944: chapter 1). According to International Law, Indonesia must have full authority of airspace, but the reality does not match as conditions desired. Since 1999, Singapore has controled of the airspace in Riau Islands because lacking of suitable equipment for Air Traffic Controllers in Indonesia. However, the current condition is different, according to Flight International Law in 2009, the airspace authority of the Riau islands should be returned to Indonesia (Riau Bulletin, 2009: issue 11). Thus, Singapore seems unwilling to return the authority of the airspace to Indonesia because of aviation safety reasons. The government should be aware of this case, because it could be a potential threat to the sovereignty and dignity of Indonesia.
c. The Pakistan Aircraft. Air First Marshal Bambang Samudero (the Air Force’s spokeman) said that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) entered National Airspace of Indonesia without security clearance. PIA forced down (force to land) by Indonesian Air Force fighter jets. Indonesian Air Force did this as PIA had broken Indonesia airspace, but after completing administrative procedures, PIA is allowed to continue the flight as they planned (Sulistiyawan, Tribun News: 2011).



8. President Yudhoyono has stressed the importance of building a more credible Indonesian Armed Forces. The most important thing in developing the military power is the budget allocation, mainly Indonesian Air Force which has need to procure expensive equipment. Here are some of the initiatives to increase the military budget of Indonesia (Hakim, 2011:154-166):
a. In his speech at the 66th Indonesian Armed Forces’ anniversary of October 5, 2011, the Indonesian President Yudhoyono stated that he had agreed with the Indonesian House of People’s Representative to allocate larger budget for defence sectors.
b. Indonesian Ministry of Defence has agreed to allocate the budget to the Minimum Essential Forces as much as 2.5 percent of GDP in 2011. In the previous years, the budget have given never reached 1 per cent of GDP. Minimum Essential Force is attempts in increasing the military equipment to fill the essential airspace that still empty of air defence.
c. Indonesian Armed Forces have prepared a list of strategic plan to achieve Minimum Essential Forces.


9. Indonesian Air Force has launched programme “Road to Zero Accident” (RZA) to reach a target flying safety and work in its environment. Evidently, Air Vice-Marshal Rodi Suprasodjo made the “Road Map to Zero Accident” (RMZA) as a method in achieving the objective and work safety in flight. The Program is divided in two stages, namely (Antara: 2010):
a. Outsourcing. This phase, the Indonesian Air Force has appeal to the Republic of Singapore Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force. Indonesian Air Force adopted from these two countries as both have managed to maintain the safety of flying and work environment for 15 and 20 years.
b. Investigation. Before adopting the method of Singapore and Australia, the Indonesian Air Force has only have three factors methods of safety assessment such as; human, material and media. Since learning from the two countries, the Indonesian Air Force is renew his five factors; the human, material, media, mission and management.

10. With Indonesian Air Force programme, RZA is expected to oblige and maintain safety of pilots and equipment towards head is World Class Air Force. The programme apparently a success, because since the 2010 until now there are no accident of Indonesian Air Force being reported.


11. Indonesian Aerospace Industry (IAI) was begun by B.J. Habibie, the third President of Indonesia when he was appointed as Minister of Research and Technology. IAI has been a success in Indonesia compared during the era of “new order” (Soeharto’s regime), which created C-212 and CN-235 aircraft by the young Indonesian intellectual. Indonesia has sold these aircraft in the military and civilian version. Now, IAI has a mandate from the people of Indonesia to build fighter jets KFX/IFX cooperation project with South Korea. 37 of Indonesian engineers has began to implement this project in South Korea. Indonesia invest around $8 billions for 50 warplane from a total 250 warplane in the project (Moss, the Diplomat :2011).


12. Indonesia realizes, as developing country, it must have a good relationship with other nations. There are others procurement such as aircraft, air defence radar, re-serviceable aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. The United States grants thirty of F-16 C/D to Indonesia and it is now in the process signing memorandum of understanding between Indonesia and the United States (Heru, Antara News: 2011). Australia also plans to provide C-130 Hercules type J and as a transport aircraft in support of the Armed Force mobilization or disaster mitigation (Osman, Jakarta Globe: 2011). From South Korea, Indonesia has signed agreement to buy 16 T-50 fighter jets (Wiharjono, Suara Merdeka website: 2011). In addition, Brazil has also agree about procurement of 16 Super Tucano aircraft for Indonesian Air Force (Waldron, Flightglobal: 2011).



13. Numerous attempts have been made to increase the budget to the Indonesian Defence Force. However, there are some challenges in getting higher military budget, such as:
a. Defence budget in Indonesia has always been divided into five sectors; the Ministry of Defence, Armed Forces’ Headquarter, and Army’s Headquarter, Navy’s Headquarter and Air Force’s Headquarter. In comparing to the Indonesian Police Department, whom are under the Ministry of Home Affairs, they separated budget from the the Ministry of Home Affairs. If the military budget for Indonesian Armed Forces can be separated from the Ministry of Defence, Indonesian Armed Forces will certainly get a bigger budget to enhance its capabilities (Hakim, 2011: 220).
b. Indonesian Air Force’s Headquarter during this time, only get the smallest budget compared to the other Headquarter. Whereas, Indonesian Air Force has the biggest needs for the budget due to expensive procurement in obtaining equipment (see Annex A) (Hakim, 2011: 221).


14. Australia and Singapore can be an example to the Indonesian Defence Force. Although they live in a peaceful environment, they have prepared the military forces themselves with high capability of air power.
a. Australia. In the twenty-first century Australia continues improving their equipment and weapons to face the future of urban warfare. The Royal Australian Air Force at this time has a total of 191 aircraft in the role of various types of attacks (see Annex B) (, 2011).
b. Singapore. Due to its location in a strategic area between Indonesia and Malaysia. This small country yet highly developed has managed to prove their existence in the world. Through as credible Defence Force, Singapore also has the largest military force in Southeast Asia to face various threats. “Singapore is only a small area, but Singapore can make a good relation with all countries within the limits compatible with their achievements as a sovereign state. Small but has a great power, a good economy and welfare” (Koh, 2011). The strength of the Singapore Air Force now is 269 warplanes can be seen in Annex C (Tan, 2004: 6).


15. A new perspective about Indonesian Air Power is to have the high capability of the control of the air as a fundamental requirement of air defence in the 21st century. Have a good ability in information technology, rapid reaction, flexibility and minimize the air war space in both low or high conflict are four characteristics of Air Power to be achieved (see paragraphs 4 and 5). The current Indonesia’s Air Power can be assessed that is a weak condition, but it still deep in process for having a World Class Air Force (paragraph 6). Paragraph 7 assesses the weak of Air Power that resulted of some countries tried to expand its territory into the territory of Indonesia, as it did on Bawean, Riau Islands FIR incident and PIA incident.

16. Some of the initiatives that the Government, Indonesia Ministry of Defence, the Indonesian Armed Forces Headquarter and Indonesian Air Force Air Force Headquarter have done to achieve an optimal Air Power, are: initiative to increase the military budget, enhance safety programs “Road to Zero Accident”, optimize the military aircraft industry through Indonesian Aerospace Industry and maintain a good International Relationships described in paragraphs 8 to 12. The fundamental challenge that must be solved in realizing the optimal Indonesia’s Air Power is about the military budget. Because only with adequate military budget then all initiatives to enhance the ability of Air Power can be implemented (see paragraph 13). In paragraph 14 is about a challenge that assessed the ability of Australia’s and Singapore’s Air Power, although in the peace times, that two countries still have a good Air Power to face any future threats.


17. Having considered the challenges facing Indonesian Air Force and to plan possible solution, the following recommendation can be made :
a. Military Budget. Recommendation of increasing military budget, as follows:
(1). It is recommended that Indonesian Goverment to consider in separating the budget between Ministry of Defence and Indonesian Armed Forces.
(2). It is recommended for Indonesian Goverment to add more military budget for Indonesian Air Force, due to Indonesian Air Force’s procurement in getting and improving its capability.
(3). It is recommended for Ministry of Defence to propose military budget in 2012 more than 2.5 percent of GDP, so Indonesian Armed Forces can carry on its strategic plan of Minimum Essential Forces.
b. Road to Zero Accident. It is recommended for Indonesian Air Force to oblige the “Road to Zero Accident” and enforce the programme as a culture for all Air Force’s members in maintaining the success of 1.5 years without accident.
c. Indonesia Aerospace Industry. Indonesian Goverment have to develop the defence industry as the best way to reduce the dependencies to other countries. If the development of military industry can be achieved, Indonesia will be no longer dependent on other countries to develop its weaponry and spare parts.
d. International Relationships. Final recommendation is, Indonesian Goverment should maintained good diplomatic relationships with its neighbouring country, to boost Indonesia as a country that is responsible and peaceful.

Sungai Akar
November 2011

A. Indonesia’s Military Budget.
B. The Strength of Royal Australian Air Force.
C. Republic of Singapore Air Force Strength.


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