Bloomberg is reporting that Indonesian Air Force dropped the purchase of 11 Sukhoi Su-35 fighters after pressure from the US Government. Some source told Bloomberg that Washington warned Jakarta that buying the Russian fighters will Indonesian Armed Force being penalized under the CAATSA. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. The bill was passed on July 27, 2017, 98–2 in the Senate, after having passed the House 419–3. On August 2, 2017, President Donald Trump signed it into law while stating that he believed the legislation was “seriously flawed”.
The US Government offered the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 72 (Viper) to Indonesian Air Force in but Indonesia is more keen on buying Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II instead. Indonesia planned to purchase 11 Sukhoi Su-35 jets in exchange for Russia buying goods such as rubber, crude palm oil, coffee, tea, furniture and spices under a barter deal announced in August 2017. The agreement was eventually signed by Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu in February 2018. Indonesia then elected the Su-35 to replace Indonesian Air Force aging F-5E Tiger II fleet. The Su-35 competed with several western fighters including Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, F-16V Viper, and Saab JAS 39 Gripen.
The decision to scrap the deals was made after Indonesian officials concluded it would be a misstep to get on the wrong side of the US, the official said. Indonesia’s Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, in coordination with Prabowo, decided it would be dangerous to risk the trade relationship. Senior members of Indonesian administration have expressed concern in recent years that Trump would target Indonesia over its trade surplus with the US, which amounted to about $10.7 billion in 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The coronavirus further threatens economic damage: Indonesia’s stocks have tumbled into a bear market and its currency has been Asia’s worst performer in the past month.