The United States will sell Indonesia eight new AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel said from Jakarta on Monday. Hegel is currently on a four-nation tour of Southeast Asia that began in Malaysia on Aug. 24.
The deal, which includes advanced Longbow Fire Control Radar, training and maintenance, is worth $500 million.
An American defense official told the Wall Street Journal that the Apaches would help the Indonesians improve their counter-piracy efforts and other military operations.
There was a period when the US would not sell military hardware to Indonesia due to reports of human rights abuses there. Those restrictions were lifted by the George W. Bush administration. In 2010, the Obama administration removed the last of the restrictions on training the Indonesian military.
On Monday, Hagel commended Indonesia for improving transparency and the protection of human rights.
“We must work to make even more progress on this critical issue, which will lead to even more momentum in our defense relationship,” he said.
However, the deal is not sitting well with some human rights groups. The East Timor Action Network and West Papua Advocacy Team recently sent a letter to the US Congress arguing that Indonesia’s “long record of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity” should prevent the sale of the helicopters.