Sun, 06 Jul 2003

U.S., RI jet fighters came too close for comfort

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Few people realize that Indonesia may have been just seconds away from a possible war with the United States when its warplanes came into close contact with U.S. jet fighters this week.

The U.S. Navy F-18 Hornets were in attack mode and ready to fire at any moment when two of Indonesia's American-made F-16s met them above Bawean island in the Java Sea on Thursday afternoon, according to National Air Defense Commander Rear Marshall Wresnowiro.

Below is the chronology of the encounter involving two Indonesia F-16s and five U.S. F-18s: 4:50 p.m. F-16 jet fighters start their engines in Madiun air base in East Java. 5:01 p.m. Information about the location of intruding jetplanes is received by F-16s, 5:02 p.m. F-16 jet fighters take off. 5:20 p.m. Jet fighters get information that two U.S. warplanes are on their way toward them. 5:21 p.m. Radar contact with U.S. warplanes is established. 5:22 p.m. Radar of all four warplanes jam each other. 5:24 p.m. U.S. warplanes "lock on" to one of Indonesia's F-16s, meaning they are ready to fire any moment; F-16 promptly maneuvers to avoid attack. 5:25 p.m. An F-16 comes close to an F-18 Hornet; the latter maneuvers and maintains a two-mile distance from F-16. 5:25.30 p.m. An F-16 gets involved in close maneuvers with two F- 18s since the latter were in an attack posture. At the same time, an F-16 sees a US Navy frigate sailing to the east. Another F-16 takes a position as a support fighter. 5:26 p.m. An F-18 speeds away and is involved in close manuevers with an F-16 5:26.10 p.m. An F-16 maneuvers with two F-18s. The other F-16 displays a "rocking the wing" sign to say that they are not a threat. 5:26.15 p.m. An F-16 is able to communicate with the F-18s. 5:26.20 p.m. An F-18 informs F-16s that they are part of a U.S. Navy squadron and that they have secured a permit to enter Indonesian airspace. 5:26.30 p.m. An F-16 says that they are on a regular patrolling mission. 5:27 p.m. F-18 warplanes fly away. 5:27.30 p.m. F-16s return to air base