Tenter Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara (Indonesian Air Force) plans to expand its military base on the archipelago of Natuna Islands in the north of the country, making it capable of hosting a squadron of Su-27/30 fighter aircrafts.
– officially, the decision to expand a military base on the Natuna archipelago is not associated with territorial disputes taking place on South China Sea waters, due to the fact that Indonesia in not a direct part of them,
– redeployment of Su-27/30 fighters north of the country is presented by Indonesian authorities as a response to the inflaming political and military situation in the region, especially involvement of PRC’s, Philippine and Vietnamese armed forces in the originally political process of territorial disputes,
– unofficially, by increasing its military presence in the north of the country, Indonesia authorities want to settle a long lasting disputes concerning delimitation of Indonesia exclusive economic zones on the Natuna Sea, endangered by PRC’s territorial ambitions in form of the nine-dashed line, which happen to cover parts of Natuna Sea which are of interest of Indonesia,
– problems with delimitating lines of exclusive economic zones within the Natuna Sea is of great importance, since Indonesian authorities show big interest in potential exploitation of energy resources lying underneath sea bottom,
– redeploying Su-27/30 squadron to the North is merely a part of a much larger strategy, which leads to the increase of Indonesian military presence in the part of the country, similarly as: acquisition and commissioning of series of X3K patrol ships, Sigma Project 10514 frigates and 9113 corvettes, as well as conventional submarines based on the south Korean Chang Bogo-class project. Not mentioning the fact, that Natuna Islands may be protected by Indonesian newly acquired ForceSHIELD and Skyshield anti-aircraft batteries,
– it is worth noting that the fighter squadron (Skadron Udara 11) which is supposed to be redeployed to Natuna, currently is stationed east of the country, in the air force base adjacent to the Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport. Furthermore, this is one of two Indonesian fighter squadrons. Second (Skadron Udara 3), equipped with 7 F-16A and 3 F-16B (Block 15 OCU) is stationed in the south, in the Iswahyudi Air Force Base,
– redeploying Su-27/30 to Natuna does not mean, however, that east of the country will be left without protection from the air. Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport will be ecquiped with at least a squadron of 24 used ex-American F -16A/B Block 32 fighters ( which will be upgraded to the Block 50/52 standard) Indonesia plans to acquire, to replace the fleet of obsolete F-5 E/F fighters.