Thursday, April 05, 2007
The Indonesian Air Force received an early birthday present Wednesday from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in the form of Rp 2.8 billion (US$304,000) in spare parts for its C-130 Hercules transport aircraft fleet.
Celebrating its 61st anniversary next Monday, the Indonesian Air Force is in dire need of spare parts for its Hercules fleet, which in addition to military operations is often used in humanitarian missions.
The spare parts were handed over by the RAAF air commander for Australia, Vice Marshall John Quaife, to the director general of defense facilities at the Defense Ministry, Vice Marshall Slamet Prihatino.
Witnessing the presentation was Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Bill Farmer.
Quaife said Australia recognized Indonesia as an archipelagic country that was highly dependent on aircraft to reach and assist remote communities.
"I would find it hard to think of any humanitarian or community support operation that does not in some way rely on this aircraft and their crews for success," said Quaife.
He said the gift was a "small" indication of the further strengthening of relations between the respective nations' air forces.
"It is the small things, plus the larger things, such as the Rajawali Ausindo exercise last year, that highlight and strengthen the relationship that our air forces enjoy," he added.
The Rajawali Ausindo exercise was held in December 2006 and involved joint-activities on C-130 inter-operability at the RAAF's Richmond base.
A total of 170 items covering 27 different parts where donated for use in the maintenance of 12 Indonesian Hercules. Last year, eight Indonesian Hercules aircraft received similar spare parts from Australia.
Slamet said the spare parts would be extremely helpful in the Indonesian Air Force's efforts to upgrade and maintain its Hercules fleet.
"Australia offered more than what we get now, but we asked only for what we really need. There is no need to get any parts that cannot be used," he said.
"They offered more than what we received now, but we received only what we really need. There is no need to receive any parts if we can't use them," said Slamet.
Quaife said Australian and Indonesian C-130 aircraft had worked together during several humanitarian operations, such as in assisting the victims of the devastating 2004 tsunami.
"Such operations highlight the importance of airlift collaboration between neighbors," he said.
C-130s from both countries played a significant role in recovery operations following the tsunami, while Indonesian Air Force C-130s featured in relief operations following the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006.
"Having retired our C-130E aircraft, it makes sense for Australia to transfer the surplus spare parts to Indonesia to enhance regional humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. We have a mutual interest in regional humanitarian and disaster relief," said Farmer.
He said the transfer of the spare parts demonstrates the strengthening defense relationship between the two countries.
The RAAF currently operates the C-130J Super Hercules and the C-130H models while Indonesia operates the older C-130B and C-130H models. (02)