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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Indonesia Military Plane Crashes In Residential Area In Medan

Reports on casualties still coming in  

AGENCIES
07/01/2015

An aging Indonesian military plane packed with soldiers and their families crashed after takeoff in a densely-populated area of Sumatra’s biggest city, killing at least 113 in the latest air disaster to beset the Southeast Asian nation.


The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was carrying 101 passengers and 12 crew, and there were no survivors, Air Force Chief Agus Supriyatna said Tuesday on MetroTV. The plane hit buildings and cars, smashing into a hotel and a sauna, but there was no word on casualties on the ground.

The Hercules, in operation since 1964, took off from the city of Medan on a routine flight, Detik’s website cited air force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Sutrisno as saying. 


The pilot had asked to return to base and the air force believes there was a malfunction, MetroTV reported.

The crash may raise fresh questions about the health and age of Indonesia’s air force planes. President Joko Widodo has pledged to boost defense spending to replace outdated equipment as Indonesia faces the challenge of preserving maritime security along the world’s largest archipelago, a string of more than 17,000 islands that would stretch almost from New York to London.




Widodo, known as Jokowi, has laid out an ambitious vision that spans the development of the fishing industry, improved port infrastructure, stronger sea defenses and better diplomacy as Indonesia deals with illegal fishing, territorial disputes and piracy. Key to that is modernizing the military in a country that’s long focused its defense spending on ground forces rather than the navy or air force.
Two Minutes

“Evacuation of the victims of the Hercules must be prioritized,” Jokowi said Tuesday on Twitter. “Next will be evaluation of the aircraft’s age and defense equipment.”




The plane took off at 11.48 a.m. local time and fell out of the sky two minutes later, said Wisnu Darjono, a director at the state airnavigation agency. It dropped onto the same road where a PT Mandala Airlines Boeing 737-200 crashed in 2005, killing 149 people including passengers and people on the ground.

Local residents milled around the smoldering site, bringing traffic to a halt. Military personnel at the crash site were seen carrying fire arms, grenades and rockets, MetroTV reported.




Lockheed Martin Corp. is ready to support the Indonesian air force as it investigates the crash, company spokeswoman Stephanie Sonnenfeld Stinn said in an e-mail.
‘Essential Tool’

The crash is the latest deadly accident in Indonesia’s dilapidated and poorly regulated transport network. An AirAsia Bhd. flight from Surabaya to Singapore fell into the Java Sea on Dec. 28, killing all 162 on board and leading the government to fire officials after finding airlines in breach of permits.




“The C-130 is an essential tool in moving personnel and their families around the country, given that many postings are in remote locations,” said Keith Loveard, head of risk analysis at Jakarta-based security company Concord Consulting. “The fact this aircraft was made in 1964 says a lot about the long haul still needed to reach the military’s Minimum Essential Force goal. Much of its hardware is old.”

Indonesia’s defense budget will rise at the fastest pace in the Asia-Pacific region over the next five years, according to a May report by IHS Inc. Its spending will increase 17 percent this year to 97.4 trillion rupiah ($7.3 billion) and is expected to grow 14 percent a year until the end of the decade, according to the IHS Aerospace, Defense & Security forecast.




The country will double its military budget if annual economic growth meets the government’s target of 7 percent within three years, Bisnis Indonesia reported in May, citing Jokowi. The finance ministry expects the economy may grow 5.2 percent this year, below a budget target for 5.7 percent.



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