Geopolitics and Geostrategy of Indonesian Air Defense

KF-21 Boramae fighter aircraft

The Indonesian Ministry of Defense remains committed to continuing cooperation in developing the KFX/IFX fighter aircraft with South Korea as a national priority program.

This was conveyed by the Director of Defense Technology and Industry, Directorate General of Defense Potential, Ministry of Defense, First Marshal TNI Dedy Laksmono in a workshop held by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) in Jakarta, on October 28 2023.

Korean Fighter eXperimental (KFX) and Indonesian Fighter eXperimental (IFX) are collaborative projects between South Korea and Indonesia, to develop fifth generation fighter aircraft.

The project aims to create an independent and advanced fighter aircraft to replace older fighters in the military inventories of both countries.

The KFX/IFX aircraft are designed as fifth-generation fighters, meaning South Korea and Indonesia will have advanced technology, including stealth (low radar visibility), electronic warfare, high data connectivity, and integrated avionics systems.

From a defense geostrategy perspective, Indonesia is increasingly strengthening its resource management and operations to safeguard and protect its airspace and sovereign interests.

Thus, air resilience includes an understanding of air threats, air defense policies, air force development, military technology, air protection equipment, and international cooperation in terms of air protection – increasingly being actualized in real terms.

Indonesia always applies special doctrine and strategies to protect its airspace.

It also involves elements such as passive air defense (such as air defense systems), active air defense (fighter aircraft and mobile air defense), as well as early warning and communications systems.

Geopolitics and geostrategy of air defense

Air defense geostrategy is thus very important, because air defense is also a key aspect of national defense.

This is to maintain control over airspace to avoid potential threats. And to protect territory, resources and populations from enemy air attacks.

Therefore, at the same time, understanding geopolitics and implementing geostrategic strategies is an effective solution in the context of air defense – and is very important for maintaining national security.

So in the context of air defense, geopolitics will consider factors such as a country’s geographical position, distance to potential air threats, and the importance of control over certain airspace.

From a geopolitical perspective, Indonesia is obliged to have sophisticated fighter aircraft. This is so that Indonesia, as an archipelagic country that has a vast maritime territory and borders many countries in Southeast Asia, will always be strong and gallant.

However, Indonesia has a number of islands and seas that must be monitored and protected.

So sophisticated fighter aircraft can be used for air patrols, border surveillance and law enforcement in national seas. This is also to support Indonesia’s maritime territorial defense efforts.

Indonesia has a number of complex border issues with neighboring countries. Advanced fighter aircraft can be used to monitor borders, maintain territorial sovereignty, and respond to border-related conflicts.

At the same time, Indonesia is an active member in various regional forums such as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and has an important role in regional diplomacy – so the presence of advanced fighter aircraft can strengthen Indonesia’s diplomatic position and make a positive contribution to regional stability.

In order to ensure that Indonesia’s military forces, including advanced combat aircraft, contribute effectively to its geopolitical interests, the Indonesian government must maintain a balance between defense, diplomacy and a sustainable foreign policy.

Deterrence Factor

Indonesia already has sophisticated fighter aircraft. So sophisticated fighter aircraft can also help countries protect their sovereignty and security from external threats. It can also be used to guard borders, address terrorist threats, and respond to potential conflicts.

The sophisticated fighter aircraft that Indonesia has will definitely increase military capabilities. Can be used in military operations to achieve strategic objectives, including carrying out air strikes, destroying enemy targets, and providing support to land or naval forces.

The ability to have sophisticated fighter aircraft can be a deterrence factor against potential enemies or aggressors.

The existence of strong air defense means can prevent attacks or aggression from other countries. It is possible that Indonesia will face strong resistance.

Apart from that, advanced fighter aircraft can quickly respond to emergency situations, such as natural disasters or crisis situations. Can provide medical assistance, conduct search and rescue missions, and provide logistical support at short notice.

What is no less important is that having sophisticated fighter aircraft can increase a country’s international status and influence.

It must be acknowledged: Indonesia has strong military capabilities, intended to have a stronger voice in global diplomacy and international negotiations.

A number of advanced fighter aircraft

Indonesia has a number of sophisticated fighter aircraft which are used for air defense, maritime patrols and various other military missions.

There is the Sukhoi Su-30 MK2, F-16 Fighting Falcon, CN-295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, KT-1B Wong Bee, Hawk Mk109/209, CN-235: CN-235, and Super Tucano.

The Sukhoi Su-30 MK2 fighter aircraft is a sophisticated fighter aircraft used by the TNI-AU. This aircraft has multirole capabilities, meaning it can be used for air attacks, air defense and various other types of missions.

Likewise, Indonesia has the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, a very versatile light fighter aircraft. This aircraft can also be used for various types of missions, including air strikes, air surveillance and air defense.

Meanwhile, although the CN-295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft is not a fighter aircraft, the CN-295 is a maritime patrol aircraft used by the TNI-AU and TNI-AL. This aircraft is used for maritime surveillance, border monitoring, and search and rescue missions at sea.

It’s different with the KT-1B Wong Bee. This aircraft is a combat training aircraft used by the TNI-AU. Although usually used for pilot training, it can also be armed and used in a light attack role.

As for the Hawk Mk109/209, this type of combat training aircraft has light attack capabilities. Typically used for pilot training, but can also be used in an air defense role.

Likewise the Super Tucano. This Super Tucano light attack aircraft is to fill the role of light attack and border surveillance.

As well as the CN-235, as a military transport aircraft used by the TNI-AU and TNI-AL. Although not a combat aircraft, it can be used in logistics and transport roles to support military operations.

In addition to these aircraft, Indonesia also continues to develop and modernize its air military capabilities with the acquisition of new aircraft and upgrades to its existing air fleet.

The function of this advanced fighter aircraft is to maintain national sovereignty and security, support air defense, and participate in various military missions in accordance with national defense policy.

(Prof. Dr. Ermaya Suradinata, SH, MH, MS, is the former Director General of Social and Political Affairs of the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs, Chancellor of IPDN, and former Governor of Lemhannas RI.)