Indonesia to buy more Russian jet fighters, patrol ships

JAKARTA, March 20 Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:16am EDT

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JAKARTA, March 20 (Reuters) - Indonesia plans to buy more than a dozen Russian Sukhoi fighter jets and domestically made, missile-equipped patrol ships as part of a $15 billion five-year campaign to modernise its military, defence officials said on Wednesday.

Southeast Asia's largest economy has sharply increased its defence budget since 2010 as the military looks to bolster its capacity to protect shipping lanes, ports and maritime boundaries.

Indonesia is also wary of being left behind as China, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and other Asian nations ramp up defence spending.

Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said Indonesia wanted to buy a full squadron of the Sukhoi fighter jets and the patrol boats.

He also warned delegates at a military conference that rapidly increasing military spending and stronger defence capabilities in the region could sow distrust and fuel rivalry.

"If this is not accompanied by enhanced transparency that improves trust and confidence, it could run the risk of an arms race that adversely impacts on peace and stability," he said.

Another Indonesian military official said the plan was to buy as many as 16 more Russian Sukhoi fighter jets, 17 patrol vessels, three light frigates and an undisclosed number of tanks and missiles.

Indonesia also planned to upgrade a squadron of U.S.-made F-16s. Indonesia already has more than 10 Sukhoi jets.

Last October, the Defence Ministry said it was set to buy 130 Leopard 2 tanks from Rheinmetall AG of Germany worth a total of $280 million.

Indonesia, a vast nation of islands with key sea lanes and 54,700 km (34,000 miles) of coast, has also ordered three submarines from South Korea to expand its fleet to five.

Defence spending in 2012 stood at 72.5 trillion rupiah ($7.54 billion), up 30 percent from 2011. It is expected to rise to 77.7 trillion rupiah in 2013.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

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