"The four F-16s departed today," Commander of the Roemin Nurjadin Airbase Air Commodore Irianto Moningka stated here on Tuesday.
The air squadron dispatched the four fighter jets along with six pilots and tens of Air Force personnel to Natuna at the request of National Defense Force (TNI) Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto.
All the US-made fighter jets, serving as one of TNI's reliable arms, will conduct a patrol code-named Operasi Lintang Elang 20. to uphold the sovereignty of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, he stated.
"The patrol is a routine operation in the western parts of Indonesia that we will shift to Natuna," he revealed.
He noted that the Roesmin Nurjadi Airbase, with two squadrons of fighter jets, is ready to deploy all its strength in case of a request from the TNI chief.
However, the dispatch of the four F-16 fighter jets is merely aimed at maintaining the country's sovereignty, he stated.
The Air Force has no intention of provoking any other parties, including China, which is currently deploying Coast Guard vessels to escort tens of Chinese fishing boats in the Natuna waters replete with abundant fish resources, he noted.
"We have no intention of provoking any other parties. We only safeguard our territory," he stated.
He said TNI Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto will also fly to Natuna Island soon.
Diplomatic relations between Indonesia and China have been strained in the past few days, as several Chinese fishing boats continue to catch fish some 130 miles from the Ranai waters in Natuna until now.
The TNI has also deployed eight warships to conduct patrols in the waters until Monday (Jan 6, 2020).
Based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, Natuna is Indonesia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
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Despite having no rights whatsoever to the waters, China has unilaterally claimed the waters to be included in its territory called the Nine-Dash Line.
The Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is working closely with the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs amid China's ongoing violations in the Indonesian EEZ near the Natuna waters.
The ministry will leave no stone unturned to fulfil whatever assignments are mandated to it in securing the Indonesian waters from foreign vessels fishing illegally, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo told journalists in Jakarta on Monday, (Jan 6)
The Chinese coast guard vessels and fishing boats have frequently violated Indonesia's EEZ near the Natuna waters.
The Chinese vessels were found escorting tens of Chinese fishing boats to poach on Indonesia's EEZ near the Natuna waters on December 19 and December 24, 2019. Related news: Natuna's fish and shrimp exports increase steadily
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