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Tentara National Indonesia - Angkatan Udar
The Indonesian Air Force
Credit: Roundels of the world
Last update 19-07-2022
On tail: Wing 300 first/ second badge Wing
The Indonesian Air
equipped till beginninning of 1970's mainly with Soviet block fighters,
change in government policies towards USA brought an influx of Western
the 1975 visit on an Indonesian AF in USA a delegation expressed the
wish to buy 4 to 6 Northrop F-5s, without success. During January 1977
the wish was again expressed.
In September1977 visit of the French foreign minister was used to seek information about the Mirage F1
fighter, in order to increase pressure on the USA to grant the Tiger
fighter; the same month a
delegation was sent to France to study
the possibility of purchasing weapons, especially since France reportedly
provided an Export Credit worth US$200 million to finance the purchase
of it. Faced with
competition, the US finally gave in, even though they took some time to calculate the amount of aid provided
to Indonesia, including the PL-480 rice purchase program. In fact, even
though France was
offering a in soft credit, the Mirage's offer was not really
appreciated due to the low compatibility of its system with the US's
and its high price.
Finally, even though the US had given its approval, the LoA was never been signed by Indonesia. The US included human
rights considerations as a condition of the sale, but this was finally
after behind-the-scenes lobbying: approval of the US Congress was
also obtained. The Indonesian side
signed the documents supporting the purchase at the end of March 1978. Indonesia obtained the
Northrop F-5s through the FMS (Foreign
Military Sales) scheme with a seven-year term of credit, with the first
two years just paying the interest. The offer was delayed till February 1978 when the
of 12 Northrop F-5E and 4 Northrop F-5E at a cost of USD 125m was notified to the
USA Congress. Indonesia signed the necessary documents for the purchase at the end of March 1978.
The USA offered in June 1978 as may as 4 Northrop F-5Es in an additional programm (Peace Comodo II), but this was not accepted due to lack of funds.
Armament was procured in a separate contract in 1979: more than 350'000 of various types (20mm bullets, bomb release systems, training bombs, 1'200 Mk82 250kg bombs and 2.75 FFAR rockets
and launchers). Air-to-air missile armament followed mid -80's in the form of AIM-9P2 Sidewinders. Aryo Nugroho
Line-up in USA of Northrop F-5E TS-505, TS-510, F-5F TL-514 next to the
RF-5E prototype 11420 in 1979.
The aircrafts were
to replace 18 former
Australian CA-27 Sabres equipping Skuadron Udara 14, Wing 300, at
Iswahyudi AB, the unit being inaugurated by the Ministry of Defence on 05-05-80;
the US government
placed restrictions regarding the use of these
they were not to be used in former Portuguese colony East Timor, now
Indonesia, where a guerrilla war was at time taking place.
Northrop F-5E TS-01510 with tail
markings of 300th
Wing, badge of 14th Squadron and Sidewinders
seen at Jakarta-Kemaroyan AB on 23-06-86.
Photo: Steve Ryle
first two former Sabre pilots to act as instructors were sent first to
Lackland AFB to follow a language course, followed by 1 week
psycological/physical/flight simulation course to
Williams AFB, on December 1979,
followed by another one in January 1980.
They went on to Wiliams AFB on 27-01-80 training; 3 days theoretical instruction, followed by flight training on Northrop F-5B,
followed by Northrop F-5F. All this in included
Basic fighter manoeuvers, Air Combat Manoeuvers and Tacticts in 85
days/39.2 flight hours. The cadets became instructors after 10
additional flights and completed training by end of May 1980 returning
as instructor at the Cnversion First Fore.
Local technicians went also
to Williams AFB for instruction on-16-09-79 (before arrival of
the fighters), returning in January 1980, accompanied by USA personnell.
C-5 delivered the first batch on 21-04-80; Northrop personnel, assisted
by Indonesian technicians, assembled the aircrafts at Iswahyudi AB, completing this seven days after the aircrafts' arrival in Indonesia.
First local flight of a Tiger was done by Northrop F-5F, serial TL-0514, on 28-04-80 flown by two USAF test pilots. A second batch arrived on 05-07-80, always carried by Lockheed C-5
Inauguration of Skuadron Udara 14 on the new fighter was on 05-05-80. Twelve former Sabre pilots were converted in one year.
first excercise with a foreign country, called Malindo Eagle VI, took
place between thr 8th and 10th September 1980 in conjunction with
Malaysia, while a domestic exercise took place in November 1980 when
aircrafts flew from Madiun to Medan via a stopover at Halim
Perdanakusuma (Jakarta). They encountered bad weather on the last leg.
Another domestic exercise took place at the beginning of 1981: Jayapura
New Guinea) was visited testing use of small airports; this
airport had a runway of just 1'600 meters, though Tigers need at least
Line-up of Northrp F-5F and E; of note different front camouflage of
the first two aircrafts, old Squadron badge.
loss of an Northrop F-5E happened on 24-10-86, when a pilot killed in a
training sortie in Eastern Java. In the meantime another 2 F-5Es are
known to have been lost in accidents.
missile Sidewinder AIM-9P-2 was live fired for the first time on
02-11-89 during an exercise with an TDU-11 High Velocity Aircraft Rocket simulated the target. Additional
test firings were done
attempt to buy 4 surplus Jordanian Northrop F-5E at a cost of USD 25m
was vetoed by the US Government in 1993 due to Indonesian human-rights
violations on Timor issue.
Dissimilar Air Combat Tactiic excercise "Elang Ausindo" took place from
Medan/Polonia AB against Australian AF McDonnell Douglas F-18, 77th
Squadron, between 13 and 17-11-93. Approximately 12
of the 30 engagement were won by th Indonesian Tigers. Air-to-air
engagements were won mainly by the F-18s mainly due to the higher
performance of the AN-APG-65 radar.
Air Force commander visited the 1993 Le Bourget salon and requested
proposals to various companies for an upgrade of the available
aircrafts. British Aerospace, Fokker, Alinea (? Alenia?), Northrop-
Grumman, Singapore Airspace, Smiths Industries, SABCA sent their offer in.
A program, called
MACAN (Modernisation of Avionics
Capabilities for Armament and Navigation) was established to improve the air combat and ground attack
capability, plus to enable the planes to act as an lead-in
the F-16s received
starting from December 1989; SABCA of Belgium, as systems
integrator, was awarded in March 1995 a
contract to upgrade 8 single-seaters and 4
two-seaters (though a local source
mentions only 8 single- 1double-seater) at a cost of USD 40m.
The contract included installation of new
avionics, offering commonality with local F-16s and Hawk
109/209, rewiring, structural
repairs on at least one aircraft and spares
package over four years. Upgrade of the
fighter's radar APG-59(V)3 to (V)5 standard was completed in a separate program. This selection was highly contested as the cost of a much moderner, second hand General Dynamics F-16A was only
USD 6.0 millions(!) and Belgium, an USA/NATO allied, posing the question
if SABCA if it was in a position to upgrade the aircrafts and to supply the
necessary spare parts.
prototypes, F-5E TS-0501 and F-5F TS-0516 arrived SABCA's base at
Gosseliers on 31-05-95 for modification; test
started only in September 1997 as the program run six months behind
to difficulties with suppliers and the condition of the
Modified aircrafts were returned
February 1999, ferried on Antonov An-124. Upgrading of the remaining aircrafts was to be at Iswahyudi AB, in batches of no more than three at a time, SABCA
supply modification kits, procedures and 3 technicians to assist
work, expected to last up to 5 months to complete.
F-5E TS-0501 at Gosseliers during armament trials in May 1998 after
F-5s were rotated during the years throughout the county to familiarize
pilots with the 5'100 kms long archipelago, but in 1999 and 2000 three
F-5Es were based at Kupang-El Tari AB (West
Timor), to be
used for air defence of the border area with East Timor against a possible Australian military intervention during unrests;
MACAN modified aircrafts flew in the lead with non upgraded F-5E as
wingman (not all were
MACAN modified at the time) in order to make use of the
friction with the USA regarding military operations in East Timor,
including the use fo Northrop F-5s, led in 1999 to a full embargo of
military material. This had very serious consequences to the operation
of the Air Force due to shortage of spare parts, which had to be bought
from third parties, and, regarding the upgrade of the Tigers, of
maintenance/repairs and acquisition of new components. It seems that 7
and 4 F-5F have been upgraded, work on the missing single-seater
(TS-0510) having been stopped while being in the USA. One source
mentions that upgrade was completed by 2001.
Northrop F-5E TS-0512 on a dark day, with AIM-9 Sidewinder. without nose Squadron
badge, with red last two digits on nose
Photo: TNI-AU-Angkasa-Review/Rangga Baswara Sawiyya
Photo: TNI-AU-Angkasa-ReviewTRangga Baswara Sawiyya
Above: lneup single- double-seaters in new camouflage and underfuselage tank with sharkmouth painting.
F-5E TS-0502 and F-5F TS-0516 at Madun-Isfahyuidi on 27-04-00,
both upgraded to
standard, with badge of the 3rd Wing. Note brighter than original
Photos: Sergio Bottaro
As part of a
reorganisation Wing 3 was established on May 5, 2000 at Iswahyudi with 14 Squadron (F-5E/F), 3 Squadron
(F-16A/B), Squadron 15 (Hawk Mk53), after
Wing 300 had been disbanded on 01-04-85 and
all Squadrons placed
directly under control of two operational Commands, Komando Operasi
Angkatan Udara 1
(for the Western part of Indonesia) and Komando Operasi Angkatan Udara 2
(for the Eastern part of
of East Timor in 2002 and improved relations with the USA brought an
end to the military materials embargo in February 2006; only 6 F-5s
operational at the time, one additional F-5E (serial
held in the USA, sent to Northrop in 1999 for repairs and wasn't
anymore operational. This has been returned to Iswahyudi
AB beginning of 2006, to be used as source for spare parts.
offered a grant of F-5s in December 2005, but the offer was not
accepted as the Air Force preferred to finance acquisition
of later generation Sukhoi Su-27SKM and Su-30MK2 fighters for
A replacement aircraft for the Northrop F-5 was in the wishes list of
the Indonesian AF,
together with replacements of BAe Hawk Mk53 trainer and North American
OV-10F Bronco COIN aircraft, the last one being the
most urgent and the
F-5 in the last position.
Some sources state
that The Republic of China (Taiwan) offered one Squadron of 12-20
Tigers in 2012, inclusive spares. This was denied by the Air Force
commander. Also offered were 16 former Korean Northrop F-5s
Indonesia bought one Squadron of KAI T-50 trainers; the trainers
where bought independely to the Tigers as the Korean ones had not
been upgraded, but were equpped with the original systems and the
rejected by May 2013.
Swiss company RUAG (specialised in maintenance of Northrop Tigers)
also offered in November 2012 in depth mantainance of the Tigers, to take
place in Indonesia (Madiun). Only need was to send one technician an
some equipment plus technology from Switzerland; the offer was not accepted.
Local fighters had been utilised between 4'000 and
10'000 flights hours and the Indonesian Air Force was considering the
update of the avionics by local companies Infoglobal Teknologi
Semesta in Surabaya.
Tigers participated to several national and combined with neighbouring
countries exercises as well as alarm operations. Some of them are listed hereunder.
An Air Combat Manoevring
Range, developed, together with
Singapore, was established at Pekan Baru (Sumatra
air-to-air and air-to-ground
in during 1980, initially utilising CA-27 Sabre and
Hunters of the two countries and, from 1986 in excercise
Elang Indopura IV/86, F-5s.
biennally held excercise involved, apart from helicopters and transport
aircrafts, Indonesian Northrop F-5s
and Singaporean ones, initially
F-5E, later upgraded F-5S.
The latest excercise, Elang Indopura XIV/2006,
held between 03 and 22 July 2006, divided in Phase 1 as Command
Post Excercise at Paya Lebar AB (Singapore), Phase 2 as Air Manoeuvre
Excercise at Iswahyudi AB with of 6 Indonesian F-5Es and deployment of 6 Singaporean F-5S.
An interception on alarm took place on 26-04-06 when 2
F-5E based at Kupang AB intercepted about 80 miles form Kupang 4
Australian F-18C and 1 B.707 tanker en route from Darwin
(Australia) to Paya Lebar AB
(Singapore). After initial radio contact
problems it was cleared that the Australian aircrafts had obtained
prior clearance to overfly Indonesian air space.
Power Show 2007" exercise, to show Air Force capabilities, was held on
Belitung Island (Sumatra) 18-11-07 with the participation of 3 F-5Es,
F-16A, 4 Hawk 109/209 destroying dummy targets.
Photo: Indonesian AF
The discovery by a radar station near Kupang (Timor Island) beginning May 2009
of a number
of unknown fighter aircrafts flying near Rote Island prompted routine air patrols
by four Northrop F-5E along the Indonesia
Australia border, but no contact took place. The distance between the island and Australia is less than 90 miles.
Continous tension with Malaysia brought during 2009 the basing of some Tigers at Balikpapan AB (East Borneo); a ground controlled interception exercise, called "Cakra-B/09", was held between 06-04-09 and 14-4-09
to improve readiness, with the participation of 5 Northrop F-5.
These aircrafts were supported by General Dynamics F-16 at the same
base and 2 Sukhoi Su-27 and 2 Sukhoi Su-30 based at Makasar (also
in East Borneo,
but farther away from the border).
Plans were on-hand (September 2011) to buy 24 ex USAF General Dynamics F-16C/D
and re-equip Freedom Fighter equipped Squadron 14 with these aircrafts as well as to make good attrition losses of
equipped Sqn 3, though the average life span available of present
F-5s is 4'000 hour which would keep the fleet flying till 2020.
Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff mentioned in March 2012 they were
considering the Republic of China offer to grant 1 Squadron of Northrop
F-5E/Fs, but not accepted. The
The Tigers had to be grounded two times durig 2013 due to spares shortage; last flight took place on 28-04-16, when one single- and one double-seater performed a ground attack excercise. Replacement was originally
foreseen by eleven
Russian Sukhoi Su-35, but search for a new aircraft was still going-on
in October 2021. Candidates were: Saab JA-39 Gripen, Sukhoi Su-35, F-16
Block 60 Viper and Eurofighter Typhhoon.
Entrance to the Indonesian Air Force museum at Djakarta. Photo: unknown
fuselage of Northrop F-5E TS-0503/78-0816 14 Squadron at Jogjakarta Mandala
Air Force Museum in July 2018 Photo: Bluesky300
Northrop F-5 TS-0502 seen at Bandung in 2020
The last Indonesian Tiger flew on
28-04-16 in a Simulated Surface Attack-Mission, code" Phoenix Flight"
with serials TS-0216 and TS-0516 On 25-04-17 Northrop F-5E, serial
TS-503; the unit was disbanded
and placed in reserve status,
Tiger pilots were attached to other units.
Its 11 remaining aircrafts were handed over to museums or preserved as monuments; on 25-04-17 Northrop F-5E, serial
TS-503, was officially inaugurated in Jogjakarta, at the Central Museum of the
single-seaters and 2 two-seaters had been confirmed as monuments by April/June