Foreign jets tried to enter Indonesian air space

MORE than 50 foreign fighter planes had attempted to penetrate Indonesia’s air space over the last six months, National Air Defence Command Chief Irawan Saleh has said.

The Antara news agency yesterday quoted him as saying that at least 59 foreign jets had been evicted from Indonesian air space this year.

“The foreign fighter planes tried to enter our air space illegally,” he told reporters on Friday.

Air Force chief Sutria Tubagus, also cited in an Antara report yesterday, said the intruding aircraft were intercepted by Indonesian fighter planes, based in the eastern and western parts of the archipelago, after being detected by radar.

Speaking to reporters after an Air Force ceremony here on Friday, he said: “The foreign jets were attempting to enter Indonesian air space, and in some cases even reaching the Malacca Straits. But our fighter planes were able to chase them away.”

Air Vice Marshal Saleh said that the Indonesian Air Force was on full alert and that several fighter planes had been stationed in Jakarta to protect the capital from possible threats by foreign jets.

Neither he nor the Air Force chief said where the intruding planes came from. But Air Marshal Tubagus commented: “It is obvious they have come from unfriendly countries because friendly countries would not act like that if they wished to enter our air space.”

A senior Indonesian Air Force officer told The Straits Times that “more than 90 per cent” of air space incursions this year were by US F-14s and F-15s of the American Seventh Fleet.

“These were not hostile acts. In many instances, they strayed into our air space while patrolling the area,” he said, adding that Jakarta had on many occasions “gently reminded the Americans by diplomatic means of their wrong-doing”.

Said the Air Force source: “No sovereign state will be happy when foreign planes enter its air space regularly without permission.

“While we believe in resolving this matter diplomatically, we also need to assure Indonesians that we are not sleeping when such intrusions take place and that we are ready to take action.”

He said Australian fighter jets had also been involved in air space violations but the number of intrusions by them was small compared to the US planes.

Meanwhile, State Minister for National Development Ginanjar Kartasasmita said the country planned to update its air defence system by scouring the markets for the latest technology.

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