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Diplomatic differences ground AusIndo military exercise

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 20, 2013
An RAAF file image of an Indonesian F-16 at Darwin.
A file image of an Indonesian F-16 at Darwin.

A military exercise between the RAAF and Indonesian air force has been suspended as differences wage between the Australian and Indonesian governments over intelligence gathering.

Exercise Elang AusIndo, which got underway on November 19, has been put on hold following the Indonesian president’s decision to suspend cooperation with Australia on illegal immigration. The exercise involved eight Australian FA-18s, six Indonesian F-16s and more than 200 combined defence personnel based in Darwin.

ABC News reported an Australian Defence Force spokesman as saying “the situation could change, but any decision would be made by the Australian or Indonesian governments”.

Exercise Elang Ausindo has been a regular combined Australia-Indonesia training activity designed to increase the nations’ capacity to work together.

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Comments (7)

  • Raymond


    So are the Indon 16’s just sitting idle in Darwin or have they gone back?

  • Josh


    The indo 16’s and C130 have left Darwin and headed home

  • Wayne


    Withdraw our free and cheap C-130’s from them I say. Eavesdropping by countries etc has been around for eons. What’s the big deal?

  • Chris Grealy


    Our shiny new PM is now finding that bullying and blustering don’t cut it. Having done, said, and promised anything and everything to get the power he craves, he is now at a complete loss as to what to do with it. So we are saddled with a learner government without any vision; and the Indons will advance their own interests while Australia tries to work out what just happened.

  • Blind Monkey


    @Wayne. Agree 100%.

    @Chris Grealy. This is not the making of our current PM, per se. The specific instance causing this fracas was done under the former Labor Government. It is his job to deal with it none the less.

    What grates me frankly, is the lay media’s almost total ignorance of history. Indonesia has been caught or admitted spying on Australia previously. Australia supplies significant foreign aid and has gifted, or sold defence assets to Indonesia at bargain prices. The latest example being C130H Hercules.

    Previous gifts include patrol boats that as Maj Gen Jim Molan (Australian Army Ret) pointed out earlier this year seem to spend all there time paroling Indonesian waters everywhere except to its South where the refugee boats transit to Australia.

    What is also not being reported is the dilemma for Australia re withdrawing foreign aid if we withhold this funding. The void is likely to be filled by the PRC, which has been contributing such aid to countries like PNG and Fiji, et al, in recent times. This would not sit well with the likes of DFAT and DoD for instance.

  • Raymond


    Wayne – the ‘big deal’ is that the Indon govt needs to be seen by the Indon public as doing something, namely acting highly concerned and kicking up a ruckus. Everyone knows that everyone spies on each other, it’s been happening for centuries and it’s not likely to stop anytime soon!

    Blind Monkey – yes, members of the Indon military are known to be corrupt and are actually facilitating refugee boats’ travel to Australia. They don’t want them; much better to help them on their way!

  • John N


    It’s very easy for the Abbott haters to try and make political millage out of the problem this current Government is faced with, and lets not forget this happened under the previous Governments watch. Regardless, both sides of politics have been in charge when we’ve spied on our neighbours, just as our neighbours have and do spy on us, everybody knows all Governments spy on each other.

    The noises coming out of Indonesia are as much for their own internal political purposes (they have an election coming up), as they are about making it tough for us. The Aust / Indo relationship has survived much worse, eg, our strong involvement and military participation in East Timor’s independence from Indonesia.

    Should we apologise? No way!, not publically at least, but I’m sure there will be a lot of talk going on behind closed doors.

    The problem with making a ‘specific’ apology about this situation is that it will open a can of worms, you can bet money that the media organisations that released this story, the ABC and The Guardian, would no doubt have other leaked material from Edward Snowden that would relate to our intelligence activities on other Governments in our region. If we make a specific apology to Indonesia then before you know it the next story will be released about our activities in another SE Asian country, and it would go on and on! Best for the Government to say as little as possible publically.

    As for withdrawing financial and military aid to Indonesia, not a good idea, that would really damage the relationship and that would be the start of a tit for tat escalation in retaliation by both sides.

    As the old saying goes, ‘keep you friends close and keep your enemies closer’, not that Indonesia is our enemy and we certainly don’t want them to become that either.


    John N

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