Indonesia's 'Air Force One' will not be armed

Indonesia's 'Air Force One' will not be armed

JAKARTA - The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) revealed on Sunday that the country's presidential plane is only equipped with a very modest "counter-sabotage" self-defence system.

The Boeing Business Jet 2 (BBJ2) plane has a US$4.5 million (S$5.6 million) anti-missile defence system - which deploys chaff, a cloud of thin metal sheets and plastic pieces, and flares - as a countermeasure to deter guided missiles.

Air Force spokesperson First Marshal Hadi Tjahyanto as quoted by tribunnews.com said the aircraft was not designed for combat.

"[It is equipped with] nothing else, just a defence system," he said.

Hadi also added that four pilots from the TNI-AU had been trained by Boeing to operate the defence system onboard the Rp 847 billion (S$93.17 million) airplane. "They were trained in the US to [operate] the equipment, which will be used to avoid or prevent a guided missile strike," said Hadi.

Security onboard the BBJ2 is very different to that installed in Air Force One, the US presidential aircraft.

In addition to having an anti-missile defence system, Boeing's version of the 747-200B for the US president is equipped with a sophisticated weapons system comprising a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance kit, Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) and a 20mm automatic M61A2 Vulcan canon.

Indonesia's first ever presidential aircraft arrived at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in Jakarta on Thursday after years of controversy and delays since its procurement in 2009.

The BBJ2, based on the Boeing 737-800 narrow-body airliner, travelled for four days from Boeing's aircraft manufacturing site in Delaware, United States, where it was fitted, after stop offs in Wellington, Sacramento, Honolulu and Guam before landing in Jakarta.

According to the State Secretariat, the VVIP aircraft has a master en suite bedroom, four VVIP meeting rooms, two VVIP state rooms, 12 executive areas and 44 staff areas.

With a maximum capacity of 67 passengers, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's entourage will be able to enjoy cross-continental trips before the country's next president is inaugurated in October this year.

For most of his term, President Yudhoyono has been flown on a jet leased from flag carrier Garuda Indonesia.

The president insisted that buying the aircraft would be less costly than having to rent one every time he had to travel.

The BBJ2 can fly up to 10 hours non-stop. It has a service ceiling of 41,000 feet, a cruising speed of 0.785 Mach and a maximum speed of 0.85 Mach. It can also reach a maximum cruising range of 4,620 nautical miles or 8,556 kilometers.

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