JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Indonesian Air Force and the Batam Indonesia Free Trade Zone Authority (BP Batam) agreed on Tuesday (Sept 25) to build a designated shelter for jet fighters at Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands.
The shelter, which will include an apron and a control centre, will be able to accommodate four aircraft and up to 60 air force personnel.
"To keep up with current developments, we need to place aircraft here. We will set up a temporary squadron," Indonesian Air Force chief of staff Air Marshal Yuyu Sutisna said on Tuesday.
He said the air force had actually used the airport to house military aircraft such as the Sukhoi, F16, F50 and Hercules. But it decided a special shelter was needed to prevent any interruptions from commercial planes.
The shelter's construction is also part of preparations to take over the Riau Islands province Flight Information Region (FIR) from Singapore next year, the news report said.
BP Batam's head Lukita Dinarsyah Tuwo said the air force and the authority had reached an understanding on the shelter's construction, and that his side would continue to propose the project to the National Zone Council, which would make the final decision.
"The shelter will not become a military base, so Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand will not remove the Batam airport from their list of alternative airports," he said.
Since 1946, Singapore has overseen parts of the Indonesian air space in Riau - including the resort islands of Batam and Bintan. The Indonesian government has been pushing to reclaim the FIR.
The responsibility for the FIR was handed to Singapore by the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which regulates global commercial aviation.