JAKARTA, -- The Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Udara, or TNI-AU) is preparing to deploy four units of a special forces ground corps known as the Korps Pasukan Khas (PASKHAS) on Pulau Natuna Besar, the largest of the Natuna Islands cluster in the South China Sea.
The units are equipped with the Rheinmetall-made Oerlikon Skyshield air defence system and will be stationed in the north of Pulau Natuna Besar and along the eastern coast of the TNI-AU's Ranai airbase.
The planned deployment was revealed in a transcript provided to IHS Jane's on 5 April of a meeting on TNI-AU funding requests between Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) commander General Gatot Nurmantyo and the Indonesian House of Representatives commission on defence, intelligence, and foreign affairs (Komisi I).
Skyshield is modular air defence system including a 35 mm automatic multirole cannon that can fire up to 1,000 rds/min at hostile aircraft and precision-guided munitions. The system is currently in use at the TNI-AU's Supadio, Halim Perdanakusuma, and Hasanuddin air bases.
Also presented during the meeting was a request to fund the acquisition of more medium-range air defence systems for Pulau Natuna Besar, facilities to accommodate up to eight fighter aircraft on Ranai air base that may include the Su-27, Su-30 or F-16, and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadron facility that will be stationed on the east of Runway 36 of Ranai airbase.
The aircraft and UAV facilities are expected to cost some USD91 million and the TNI has said it aims to complete these by 2019, if the request for funding is approved.
As the TNI is still evaluating its options for acquiring medium-range air defence systems no requested sum was revealed for these systems.
The Republic of Indonesian Air Force Oerlikon Skyshield air defence system.