Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) has set a target to make a squadron of 24 F16 fighter jets operational at the Roesmin Nurjadin Air Base in the Riau provincial capital of Pekanbaru, by June 2014.

"The construction of facilities at the air base is currently 90 percent complete. Hopefully, it can start operating in June this year," Commander of the Roesmin Nurjadin Air Base Col. Andyawan stated on Wednesday.

He noted that Chief of Air Force Operations Command I Vice Marshal M Syaugi had inspected the preparations for the operation of the squadron on Tuesday. The Air Force plans to station 24 fighter jets granted by the US at the air base.

The construction of facilities for the squadron of F16 fighter jets comprising hangar, fighter jet maintenance unit, and arsenal are now in the final phase, he remarked.

He pointed out that the presence of the new fighter jets will strengthen the existing armament system of the air base, which currently operates Hawk jet fighters.

The Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase is designed to become the main air base in the western part of Indonesia in the future, he explained.

"So far, F16 air superiority fighters have been stationed (at the Iswahyudi Airbase) in Madiun. In the future, a squadron of F16s will be stationed in Pekanbaru as air superiority fighters in the western part of Indonesia," he stated.

The squadron of 24 F16 fighter jets will hopefully minimize the threat of foreign aircraft infiltrating the air space of western Indonesia, he noted.

"Our air force strength will increase and we will be able to better protect the Unitary Republic of Indonesia," he claimed.

Soon after the squadron of F16s is inaugurated, the Roesmin Nurdjadin Airbase will most likely be led by a general, he added.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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