JAKARTA (Reuters): Indonesia has ditched a controversial plan to buy $790 million (733 million euros) worth of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets previously used by Qatar, the defense ministry spokesperson said late on Saturday.
“There is no purchase of Mirage jets. Even though it was planned, it has been cancelled … meaning there is no active contract,” spokesperson Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak said in a statement, but did not elaborate.
Last month, the ministry said the deal to purchase the 12 fighter jets was delayed due to fiscal constraints and that the military would order a retrofit for its existing Sukhoi and F-16 aircraft in-stead.
The planned purchase garnered controversy when it was announced last year, as lawmakers said the secondhand jets were old.
Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, the frontrunner to win Indonesia’s presidential election on February 14, has been criticized about the deal by rival candidates during campaigning.
But he defended the purchase during one of the presidential debates, saying the secondhand jets were still good for another 15 years and were needed while the country waits for its new jets to arrive.
Prabowo has overseen the military’s efforts to modernize its ageing fleet, which include purchases of Rafale fighter jets, drones from Turkish Aerospace and fighter jets and transport helicopters from US companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin.