No fighters, please


Day Two of the conference on regional security issues: Felix Soh and Derwin Pereira report

MANUFACTURE combat aircraft? No, thanks.

Asked by a journalist from Taiwan’s United Daily News whether Jakarta would venture into joint production of an indigenous fighter aircraft with Taipei, Dr Habibie gave a categorical “no”.

He explained: “Why should I spend so much building a fighter aircraft when I can easily buy one from the US, Britain, Italy,France and other countries?”

But he added that he might be more amenable to a proposal to build commercial aircraft.

“Taiwan has done a good job with its aerospace industry,” he said. “But it has a different scenario as it concentrates on military aircraft.”

He added: “Making a fighter aircraft and a civilian one are two different things. For one, you can’t insure a fighter.”

A domestically-produced Taiwanese fighter jet, called the Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF), is already in production.

Ten IDFs had been delivered to the Taiwanese air force and the assembly of 120 more is under way. Production is due to be completed by the end of 1998.

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