Starved of modern equipment, and with a small ageing fleet barely capable of defending the country’s huge airspace, Indonesia’s decision to buy 10 new Sukhoi fighter jets might not seem so strange.

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Starved of modern equipment, and with a small ageing fleet barely capable of defending the country’s huge airspace, Indonesia’s decision to buy 10 new Sukhoi fighter jets – the last three of which are due to touch down from Russia any day now – might not seem so strange.

Yet Indonesia’s defence budget is paltry – only half Singapore’s, though it has fifty times as many people – and it had to borrow heavily to fund the Sukhoi deal. With money so tight, they might perhaps have looked to other priorities: new ships to police the country’s vast maze of islands, transport planes that could be used for disaster relief.

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