US to sell Indonesia up to 36 F-15 fighter jets, engines and related equipment, including munitions and communications.
The Biden administration on Thursday approved a major arms sale to Indonesia, as the United States presses ahead with steps it believes will help counter China’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
The State Department announced a $13.9bn sale of advanced fighter jets to Indonesia while Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Australia on a trip intended to underscore the US determination not to allow China free rein in the Pacific.
The sale to Indonesia of up to 36 F-15 fighter jets, engines and related equipment, including munitions and communications systems, follows a mid-December trip to Jakarta by Blinken, who lauded close US-Indonesia ties despite human rights concerns that have delayed previous arms sales to the country.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of an important regional partner that is a force for political stability, and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region,” the department said in a statement.
“It is vital to US national interests to assist Indonesia in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability,” it said.
The statement made no mention of China, but successive US administrations have sought to enlist Indonesia, the world’s largest predominantly Muslim democracy, in its campaign to ward off Chinese attempts to boost influence in the South China Sea and the Pacific.
The US, Canada and Australia have engaged in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, citing human rights abuses by the Chinese government, including the treatment of Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region.
Indonesia hosts the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), some members of which are struggling to deal with Chinese moves into disputed areas of the South China Sea, which is a crucial international shipping route.
US military sales to Indonesia have, however, come under scrutiny and been delayed before over human rights issues; there was no mention of those issues in the State Department statement.
The Biden administration in April 2021 green-lighted more than $23bn in weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates, including highly advanced F-35 aircraft, armed drones and other equipment, congressional aides said on Tuesday.