Indonesian Air Force investigates purchase of AW-101 helicopter

Indonesian Air Force investigates purchase of AW-101 helicopter

AgustaWestland AW-101 helicopter with Indonesian Air Force's seal in its tail boom. It flew in its flight tests in Yeofil, England. ( Pittman)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff, Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, revealed that he was in the process of investigating the purchase of the AgustaWestland (AW-101) VVIP helicopter.

The investigation team was currently preparing documents related to the procurement plan for the purchase of the helicopter, which was manufactured in the UK and Italy, Tjahjanto noted here, Wednesday.

"We are preparing supporting documents, and reports containing details of the planning process until it is currently here will be submitted to the TNI commander," he remarked.

Tjahjanto did not set a time frame for the investigation since he did not want to rush with the process in order to be on target.

Tjahjanto said he was unclear on what should be done with the existing helicopter, which was procured during the period of the earlier Air Force chief of staff Air Chief Marshall Agus Supriatna since the authority came under Military Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo.

Tjahjanto asserted that the AW-101 helicopter was purchased by utilizing the Air Forces budget for meeting the initial requirement of a VVIP vehicle for President Joko Widodo.

"Earlier, the helicopter was ordered for the president, but he disagreed, as it was too expensive. Hence, we cancelled the order," the former inspector general of the Defense Ministry noted.

The procurement of the AW-101 VVIP helicopter has triggered a polemic, as both Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Military Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo were unaware of its purchase.

The helicopter, which had arrived at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, is reportedly worth U$55 million (Rp741 billion).

In November 2015, the Indonesian Air Force had expressed willingness to procure three AW-101 helicopters for VVIP transport missions. However, the following month, President Widodo axed the deal on grounds of high costs.

However, through a letter sent to the Ministry of Defense on July 29, 2016, the Air Force proposed to purchase an AW-101 helicopter, saying it was not for presidential purposes but for military use and search and rescue missions.