Indonesia will purchase four Israeli unmanned planes, or drones, through a Filipino distributor, an Indonesian Defense Ministry official said Sunday.
Indonesia chose the Israeli Searcher Mark II drones after receiving 42 offers since February, including from companies in the Philippines, Russia and the Netherlands, ministry spokesman Brig.-Gen. Edy Butar Butar said.
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The ministry chose Philippines-based Kital Philippines Corp. which will also supply a command post, controlling equipment, infrared cameras and heat-tracking device, Butar Butar said.
The Searcher Mark II, produced by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), can remain airborne for 15 hours, has a range of between 200 and 250 kilometers, and can climb to a maximum altitude of 20,000 feet.
The Indian Army has reportedly deployed its first batch of 25 Israeli-made Searcher Mark II unmanned UAVS over its frontiers with Pakistan and China. India purchased 100 of the reconnaissance drones at a cost of $750 million.
No financial details were disclosed. IAI declined comment.
The deal was a surprise to some because Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, has long supported Palestinian independence efforts and does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
At least one minor protest was held by an opposition group last week, but Indonesian government officials dismissed criticism of the purchase.
Indonesia Military Chief Marshall Djoko Suyanto said the origin of the equipment was insignificant.
"We don't deal with such matters. What is important for the military is the equipment could be used for patrolling and war. It is the Defense Ministry's decision," he told the Antara state news on Thursday.
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