It was unfortunate to note that foreign political pressure and domestic economic difficulties finally sealed the fate of the mighty Tu-16. For example, "In order for AURI to receive F-86 Sabres and T-33 T-birds from the US, we have to get rid of all the Tu-16s," said Bagio Utomo, who used to be one of the members of Skatek 042, who maintained the Tu-16.
It was undeniable that the Tu-16 was advanced for its time. As well as equipped with the latest electronic gadgets, its body was sturdy. Tu-16s were not perfect, the replacement of spare parts was sometimes difficult. "Some had to be refined and fitted manually. Some of the blisters had to be smoothen by hand." AURI later tried to sell their Tu-16s to the Egyptians but the deal did not materialize.
The farewell flight to the Tu-16 took place in October 1970. With 10 people aboard, a TU-16 numbered M-1625 flew from Madiun to Jakarta. "We almost got lost when we were looking for the National Monument (Monas)." Even up to the middle of the 80s the US government still considered the Tu-16 was a threat for its national security.
"My name is still registered as a Tu-16 pilot in Subic Bay," said Sudjijantono, from Cakra 1. Since the Air and Naval Force could not find spare parts anymore, they realised that they are more dependent on imported advanced technology than the Army. In the begining of 1970, Air Force Chief Air Marshal Suwoto Sukendar said that only 15-20 percent of the Air Force fleet remained operational, while it was 40 percent of the Navydue to the cut-off of imports of spare-parts from the Soviet Union. 1970 became a year of destructing the East Block weapons.(ben/avi/ron/sal/ida)