The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will be deploying six F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Indonesia for the first time, as part of Exercise Elang AUSINDO 23. Held at Manado in strategically-located North Sulawesi – one of the most developed provinces in northern Indonesia from 18 to 28 September 23, Exercise Elang AUSINDO 23 involves 150 RAAF personnel training alongside 160 Indonesian personnel. The Indonesian Air Force will deploy F-16 fighter aircraft for the air combat mission.
Air Vice-Marshal Glen Braz, Air Commander Australia said,“The exercise marks the first time Australia has deployed the F-35A to Indonesia.Exercise Elang AUSINDO is a regular combined training activity to increase our capacity to work together. Through this exercise we can build mutual cooperation, trust and understanding, both at the aviator-level and more broadly between the Australian Defence Force and Indonesian National Armed Forces. We are fully committed to a strong bilateral partnership with Indonesia; this important exercise allows our air forces to develop deeper relationships and enhance cooperation.”
Exercise Elang AUSINDO 23 will see Australian and Indonesian personnel plan and execute air combat exercise missions including offensive and defensive counter air missions; basic fighter manoeuvres and air combat manoeuvres and air-to-air refuelling with a RAAF KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.First held in 1993, Exercise Elang AUISINDO is part of a series of air cooperation exercises with Indonesia that includes Albatross AUSINDO (for maritime surveillance) and Rajawali AUSINDO (for tactical airlift).
Indonesia is constantly looking to partner friendly countries in order to counter China’s belligerent activities in the South China Sea. Indonesia is not a South China Sea claimant, but it has dealt with incursions into its exclusive economic zone in recent years. China has overlapping claims with several Southeast Asian countries in the resource-rich waters, with tensions intensifying this month after Beijing unveiled a new map of the disputed sea. Indonesia kicked off the first joint military drills by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc on Batam island on September 19 amid rising maritime tension with China in the South China Sea region.