Indonesia, Lockheed Martin sign deal for 24 Black Hawk helicopters

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia has signed a deal to buy 24 transport helicopters from U.S. weapons maker Lockheed Martin to strengthen its military air fleet, the country’s defence ministry said on Wednesday. The purchase comes after Indonesia’s defence ministry and U.S. planemaker Boeing signed an agreement on the sale of 24 F-15EX fighter jets on Monday.

The latest deal, signed by Indonesia’s aerospace state-owned company Dirgantara Indonesia and Lockheed Martin, is for Sikorsky S-70M Black Hawk GFA-type helicopters, which the company says are commonly used to “deliver and extract troops”.

Prabowo Subianto, Indonesia’s defence minister, said the purchase could “increase the strength of Indonesia’s military.”

The defence ministry did not give a value for the deal.

Indonesia has increased its defence spending in recent years to overhaul its fleet, which includes U.S-made F-16 and Russian Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 jets.

Earlier this month, it said it has bought 12 new drones from Turkish Aerospace worth $300 million, the latest in a series of purchases aimed at modernising the country’s ageing military equipment, which is taking place amid a fast growing rivalry between the United States and China being played out in the South China Sea.

It also purchased 12 used Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets this year in an $800 million deal that drew criticism as the aircraft were considered too old.

Last year, Jakarta bought 42 Dassault Rafale fighter jets for $8.1 billion.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia; Writing by Bernadette Christina; Editing by Stanley Widianto and Kim Coghill)