JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia plans to purchase some Airbus A400M military transport aircraft, its defense minister told Reuters on Wednesday, in a potential boost to Europe’s largest defense project.
“I have a plan to buy A400s from Europe ... but just a small number. There is no need to buy many,” Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said without elaborating.
The Airbus A400M has been marred by development delays and cost overruns. One of the planes crashed in Spain a year ago killing four crew members and leading some countries to ground the troop and cargo carrier.
A spokeswoman from Airbus Defence and Space, which is responsible for the European aerospace firm’s military products, told Reuters via email that while the company could not comment on specific sales campaigns, it was “confident” of additional A400M sales in Southeast Asia.
Malaysia remains the only export customer for the aircraft after South Africa canceled its order in 2009.
The A400M was developed for Spain and six other European NATO nations - Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Turkey - at a cost of 20 billion euros ($23 billion), making it Europe’s biggest single arms contract.
It is intended to fill a gap between the smaller Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, many of which are in service in Indonesia, and the Boeing C-17 cargo jet.
Ryacudu also said the government agreed to buy eight Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets this year, but added the price was still being negotiated.
Indonesia had initially planned to buy around a dozen of the Russian jets to replace its aging Northrop F-5 fighters, and supplement a fleet of 16 Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighters that form the backbone of its air force.
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Additional reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Siva Govindasamy; Editing by Kim Coghill and Alexander Smith
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