JAKARTA • The Indonesian air force is in a US$55 million (S$78 million) deal for helicopter transport to support President Joko Widodo's busy schedule.
The model of helicopter, an AW-101 from Rome-based company AgustaWestland, had been included in the air force's five-year strategic plan 2014 to 2019, air force spokesman, First Marshal Dwi Badarmanto, said last week.
"It was not bought specially for the President, but it will also be used by VVIP guests, including the President, Vice-President and state guests," he was quoted as saying by news site Tempo.co.
The first AW-101 will arrive in Indonesia next year and two more will be imported in 2017.
The aircraft was bought to replace the old Super Puma, which had been used for the past 25 years.
First Marshal Dwi said the new AW-101 would boost the President's mobility due to its more advanced technology and speed, and greater passenger capacity.
"The Super Puma could carry only seven passengers, whereas the AW-101 can carry 13. It is also more comfortable," he said.
Mr T.B. Hasanuddin, a lawmaker from Parliament's Commission I committee, overseeing foreign and security affairs, slammed the purchase and urged the government to buy instead from Bandung-based state-owned aircraft-maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia.
The PDI-P lawmaker quoted a section of the law on the defence industry that he said disallowed the acquisition of foreign defence and security equipment "if the state has the capability to produce it", according to Antara news agency.
Mr Hasanuddin said by buying a domestic product, Indonesia will benefit as at least 30 per cent of its materials must be sourced domestically and such an order would employ at least 700 people for a year.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK