HILL AIR FORCE BASE — About 9,000 miles and six time zones separate Hill Air Force Base and Indonesia, but that distance hasn’t stopped the two entities from forming an unlikely partnership.
On Monday, Hill’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex delivered three of what will eventually be 24 F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft to the government of Indonesia.
The delivery constitutes the beginning of a nearly $700 million aircraft acquisition and refurbishment deal between Indonesia and the U.S. where Hill maintenance workers are upgrading the avionics and overhauling the wings, landing gear and other components on each aircraft.
By the end of 2015, the Ogden ALC is scheduled to deliver 21 more F-16s to the Indonesian government.
A single F-16C and two F-16D Block 25 aircraft were among the jets delivered Monday. The aircraft were formerly flown by U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard units, but had been warehoused by the Ogden ALC's Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group located at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Ariz.
In May 2013, the planes were transferred to Hill when the upgrade work began. The initial batch of three F-16s took 15,000 man-hours to upgrade, said Hill spokesman Richard Essary.
According to the White House, the deal represents the largest transfer of excess defense articles in the history of the U.S.-Indonesia partnership, and will allow the Indonesian government to improve its air defense capacity without compromising its defense budget and other national priorities.
The deal will also “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a strategic partner that has been, and continues to be, an important force for economic progress in Southeast Asia,” according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency news release.
Chief, Southeast Asia Branch, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs, Maj. Frank Taravella said the military relationship between the U.S. and Indonesia is growing rapidly.
In April, Hill hosted a visit with Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Ida Bagus Putu Dunia. During his visit, the Air Chief Marshal toured the Hill Aerospace Museum, F-16 production line and airspace and coastal defense radar facilities.
In addition to the Chief of Staff's visit, the Indonesian Air Force sent officials in June to observe one of the U.S. Air Force's premier air-to-air fighter exercises, Red Flag-Alaska.
Taravella said the F-16 refurbishment deal will ensure interoperability between the two forces into the future.
“This F-16 program currently stands as the flagship program of the defense relationship between the U.S. government and Indonesia,” Taravella said in a statement.