The US Government has approved the sale of eight new AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and Longbow fire control radars to the Indonesian Army (TNI), US defence secretary Chuck Hagel has revealed.

Speaking during a joint news conference with Indonesian defence minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro in Jakarta, Hagel said the first-of-its-kind deal is valued at approximately $500m.

"A senior defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the sale marks significant progress in military capabilities."

"Providing Indonesia these world-class helicopters is an example of our commitment to help build Indonesia’s military capability,” Hagel added, without providing further details about the sale.

A senior defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the sale marks significant progress in military capabilities by a vital US partner and also a type of investment the US believes is prudent to support security in the Asia-Pacific region.

The new capability "will help Indonesia respond to a range of contingencies, including counterpiracy operations and maritime awareness," the official added.

Pilot training and assistance by the US military in development of tactics, techniques and procedures for operating in the south-east Asian security environment are also included in the deal, whose delivery and training timeline details are still being determined, according to the official.

Meanwhile, the sale has been condemned by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT), citing that it ignores TNI’s appalling record of human rights violations and will enable the service to pursue "sweeping" operations after dark and in even more remote areas in West Papua.

Nicknamed as Guardian, the Boeing AH-64E is a heavily armed helicopter featuring powerful, fuel-efficient T700-GE-701D engines, enhanced rotor blade technology and electronics, as well as improved aircraft handling, performance and agility at higher altitudes.

Designed to replace the existing AH-64D Longbow helicopters, the helicopter also features a joint tactical radio system, electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors to improve pilots’ situational awareness and an oversea capacity, enabling potential strikes on smaller ships.

Image: Indonesia’s Army will receive eight new Boeing AH64E Apache attack helicopters. Photo courtesy of PEO Aviation.

Defence Technology