The purchase of three helicopters was proposed by the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) to replace the old Super Puma helicopters and not only to act as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's private transportation, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said on Wednesday.
Pramono said Airforce chief Marshall Agus Supriatna had proposed the purchase in the Air Force's 2015 to 2019 five-year strategic plans.
"This is for VVIP [very very important persons]. Therefore, not only for the President and Vice President, but also state guests. The Airforce proposed the replacement because the Super Puma helicopter used by the President for work visits have been used for 25 years," he said as quoted by setkab.go.id.
Pramono said that as a vehicle for VVIP, the helicopter must have specific features such as a bulletproof exterior.
Lawmakers and people have slammed Jokowi through social media for the purchase of the mid-lift AW-101 models from Rome-based company AgustaWestland, with an estimated $55 million per unit
Airforce spokesman First Marshall Dwi Badarmanto had previously said that the helicopters were bought to support the President's mobility and to replace the old Super Puma aircraft.
Marshall Agus Supriatna said the decision to buy the modern and advanced AW-10 was based on the studies of the VVIP Air Squadron and followed through by Military authorities for the sake of safety and comfort."If the helicopters were not safe then I would be responsible if something [bad] happened. That's why I asked for [a helicopter] that is safe," he said.
Agus said the Force would install bulletproof, anti-jamming and anti-missiles systems in the aircraft in accordance with the budget. The price is still lower than the helicopter used by the US president, which costs around $120 million (S$169 million) because of the complete range of added features. The first helicopter will arrive around April next year.