TNI's Air Force Deploys Four F-16 Fighter Jets to Natuna



Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Pekanbaru - Indonesian Military (TNI) Air Force flies four F-16 fighter jets from the 16th Air Squadron in Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase to Natuna Island to execute patrols in Indonesia’s outermost region.

    “Four F-16s are departing now,” said Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase Commander, First Marshall Ronny Irianto Moningka, in Pekanbaru, on Tuesday, January 7, 2020.

    He explained that the dispatching of four F-16 fighter jets along with six pilots and numerous air force personnel to Natuna today has been ordered by the TNI Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto.

    The American made aircraft, that has become the centerpiece in the Indonesian Air Force, will patrol Indonesia’s sovereign territory in the operation dubbed as 'Operasi Lintang Elang 20.'

    “This is actually a routine procedure in the Western Region that we have relocated to Natuna,” he said.

    Aside from the four F-16 fighter jets, he went on to say that Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase, which is the most heavily equipped airbase in Sumatra and further strengthened by two combat squadrons, is now on guard. He has stated that the airbase is ready to exercise their full might if he was to receive such a command from TNI commander.

    However, Ronny has claimed that the dispatching of four F-16 fighter jets has been done only for the purpose of securing Indonesia’s sovereign territories. He further stated that there is no intention to provoke any party, especially China, which has dispatched their own set of coast guards and fishing boats to Natuna. “We do not intend to provoke any party. We are just guarding our own territory,” he said.

    Furthermore, aside from the arrival of the F-16s in Natuna, Ronny has said that TNI Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto will visit Natuna, in person, today.

    Recently, diplomatic relations between Indonesia and China have been tense, due to a number of Chinese ships still maintaining their position in Natuna waters, to the day.

    The foreign vessels were adamant that they have caught fish 130 miles of Ranai Waters, in Natuna.

    On the other hand, the Indonesian Military has dispatched eight patrolling vessels since Monday in order to secure the Natuna Waters, Riau Islands.

    Based on the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, the Natuna Waters are within Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. As such, China does not have any rights within the area.

    However, China has unilaterally claimed Natuna to be located within their territory, through what is called the ‘Nine-Dash Line.’