"Black Hawk could be the best choice."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government is still undecided whether it would finally buy Black Hawk or Apache helicopters from the US.

The army however prefers Black Hawk to Apache because Apache is more expensive, army chief of staff General Pramono Edhi Wibowo said here on Monday.

"We still continue studying the procurement plan. But Black Hawk could be the best choice," he said after signing a memorandum of understanding for cooperation between the army, PT Pertamina and PT BRI.

He said when he first visited the helicopter plant in the US the price of Apache was actually still standard but when a deal would be made the price went up.

"I do not know who has increased it," he said.

Regarding procurement of Leopard tanks Pramono said that it had reached payment settlement. "The settlement is still being processed at the ministry of defense," he said.

The ministry of defense is studying to purchase Black Hawk or Apache to increase the army`s main military hard wares.

"The choice will be Black Hawk or Apache. It is part of the additional hard wares that we have proposed to complete the army`s main weapons system," defense minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said here last Friday.

He said the US government had already given a green light for the purchase of the Apache helicopters by Indonesia but Indonesia wants a bigger number of helicopters.

"If we cannot acquire more Apache we would buy Black Hawk. What is important is we could have quite a lot of combat helicopters to increase our strength," he said.

The defense ministry has not as yet decided which helicopter it would finally buy as calculation was still being made with regard to budget availability but the plan was expected to be able to be realized this year.

"We are racing against time as our tenure will end next year," Purnomo said.

The minister said Apache is the most sophisticated helicopter now but the army has also said that it would not be a problem if it is Blackhawk that will finally be bought.

He said the army`s target is building a squadron of helicopters.

The former chief of defense facility agency, Major General Ediwan Prabowo meanwhile said that the government has allocated US$400 million for combat helicopter procurement.

"With the funds we could buy eight units of Apache as the price of one Apache is around US$45 million. If we use them to buy Black Hawk we could get 20," he said.

Regarding the difference between Apache and Black Hawk he said Apache is an attack helicopter that could destriy tanks, armored vehicles and bunkers while Black Hawk as an assault helicopter could carry personnel and be mounted with arms but its destruction power is not as strong as that of Apache.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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