Indonesia wants to buy Israeli UAVs

Published 23 October 2006

UAVs are used by more and more militaries and law enforcement forces, and the Indonesian military is no exception; it first tried to develop the vehicle indigenously, but the result was disappointing; the world’s largest Muslim country then looked around, and decided to purchase UAVs from Israel

Remember the commercial “With a name like Smuckers, it’s got to be good”? It may be the same when the world’s largest Muslim country buys a product from Israel, as is the case with Indonesia’s plan to purchase Searcher Mark-II UAVs from Israel. Marshal Djoko Suyanto, the Indonesian National Defense Forces (TNI) commander, last week revealed his country’s plan.

The Indonesian defense minister, Juwono Sudarsono, said that buying UAVs from another country, like Israel, was a realistic decision because similar locally-built equipment with the same technology was needed by the Indonesian defense forces. Sudarsono explained that Indonesia had tried to develop a UAV prototype last year, but its coverage and range were limited. “We still need time and huge amounts of money to develop these aircraft both for military and commercial purposes. To upgrade the existing prototype, we still need further study, time and huge sums of money,” Juwono said.

The news that the predominantly Muslim Indonesia was planning to procure military equipment from Israel, a country with which it has no diplomatic ties, caused a wave of criticism by legislators in parliament. Some legislators claimed that procuring the UAVs from Israel is in violation of laws and regulations and accused the government of ignoring required procedures. Djoko, however, said that the plan to purchase the reconnaissance aircraft was initiated by the TNI because its technical specifications met that of all three services. “Then we made surveys here and there, not only in one country. The surveys were conducted by a joint team with personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, the TNI’s strategic intelligence agency BAIS and the ministry of defense,” he said.

We note that Israel opposed the inclusion of Indonesian units in the international force the UN put together to police south Lebanon after the Israel-Hezbollah war this past summer. Israel said it would not accept forces from a country with which it has no diplomatic relations.

-read more in Yossi Melman’s Haaretz report [