The U.S. State Department has cleared a request by Indonesia to purchase 120C-7 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles from U.S. weapons manufacturers, United Press International reported Friday. The approval comes as the U.S. has steadily strengthened its relations with Indonesia and other Asia-Pacific allies under the Obama administration.
"The proposed sale improves Indonesia's capability to deter regional threats and strengthen its homeland defense," the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a required notification to Congress. "Indonesia is able to absorb this additional equipment and support into its armed forces."
The proposed deal is worth some $90 million. The primary beneficiary of the likely sale is to be determined by competition, the agency said in its notice. The advanced medium-range air-to-air missile is “the world’s most sophisticated air dominance weapon,” according to Raytheon Company's website.
Indonesia has in the past purchased massive missile systems from the U.S., including the AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder missiles last approved last year. They cost an estimated nearly $50 million.
It was not immediately clear what “regional threats” the missiles would help defend from, but Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim state — has been a target of Islamic extremists. Earlier this year, four people were killed as gunmen and suicide bombers targeted a Starbucks café and a police post in the country’s capital. More than 20 people were also injured. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.
A few hundred fighters have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the group — though notably fewer than from many European, Middle Eastern or North African countries. Some independent groups within the country have declared their support for ISIS.
Indonesia has sought to expand its military capabilities, particularly its navy, in recent years, Future Directions International reported. The U.S. has looked toward Indonesia as a key Muslim partner in the fight against terror since the September 11, 2001, attacks.