(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Indonesia wants to buy a number of combat helicopters from the United States for the army, Defenses Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said. "The choice is Apache combat helicopters to strengthen the army weapons system,"
Purnomo said here on Friday. He said the US government has approved the proposal to buy Apache helicopters but the defense ministry wants a larger number. "If we could not buy enough units of Apache, then we want Black Hawk. We want more combat helicopters to build up our strength," he was quoted by Indonsian Antara News as saying. He did not say how many units of helicopters the ministry plans to buy. "We are still calculating based on the budget set aside by the finance ministry and the national Development Planning Board (Bappenas)," he said giving no figure for budget.
He said the final deal on the helicopters is expected to be signed this year. Earlier army chief of staff Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo said the additional units are to form a new squadron of helicopters for territorial security. Parmono also has been quoted as saying the army would have Rp14 trillion (US1.56 billion) to buy military hardware this year.
"That is the amount approved by the House of Representatives for the army to buy new weapons," he said. He said negotiations are in progress for the purchase of 20 units of Black Hawk helicopter.
He acknowledged that the army needs replacement of old weapons simultaneously and by phases. Talks on the fund disbursement has been in the final phase between the defense ministry and the finance ministry, he said.
The types of equipment to be acquired will depend on the requirement also including Leopard tanks, cannons and rockets with a firing range of up to 100 kilometers. The equipment would be distributed by phases to various regions which need modernization of weapons system, he said. Former head of the defense Facility board Maj. Gen. Ediwan Prabowo said the government allocates US400 million to buy combat helicopters.
"The fund would be enough to buy 8 units of Apache helicopters as the price per unit is around US45 million or 20 units of Black Hawk," Ediwan said.
Apache is superior in that it could destroy tanks, armored vehicles and bunkers, he said. Black Hawk has less capability in destroying targets but it could carry troops, he added.