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INDONESIA’S MILITARY MODERNIZATION

Posted on 01 November 2012

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In the last few years, Indonesia has been working towards the expansion and modernisation of its armed forces towards a goal of reaching a Minimum Essential Force (MEF) in 2024, however it should be noted that what constitutes a Minimum Essential Force in terms of numbers and strength have not been clearly defined though the Presidential Directive No.7 of 2008 which established the MEF concept defined it as, “a force level that can guarantee the attainment of immediate strategic defense interests, where the procurement priority is given to the improvement of minimum defence strength and/or the replacement of outdated main weapon systems/equipments.”

by Dzirhan Mahadzir

 

The 6 x 6 Anoa AFV, manufactured by Indonesia’s PT Pindad has been steadily entering service with the Indonesian Army and PT Pindad is now seeking foreign buyers, this example was renamed the Rimau and painted in UN colors as part of a marketing campaign for Malaysia’s requirement for 36 6x6 vehicles for UN missions © Dzirhan Mahadzir

Over the years though, it should be noted that Indonesia’s Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and senior Indonesian military officers have made statements as to the numbers of weapon systems and platforms that would meet the MEF requirement. However some of the numbers stated by Indonesia seem unlikely to be attainable given the finances involved. For instance, Defence Minister Purnomo in 2010 stated that Indonesia would be interested in buying up to 180 Sukhoi fighters, a somewhat unfeasible number given the finances involved and the fact that it took almost a decade for Indonesia to procure the ten Sukhoi fighters it currently operates. Still though it is clear that Indonesia is embarking on an extensive modernisation effort with funding backed by an enthusiastic Parliament, in September the Indonesian government committed 99 trillion rupiahs ($11.2 billion) to spend on defense equipment until 2014 but the Indonesian Parliament in October added an additional 57 trillion rupiah for a total of 156 trillion rupiah ($16.2 billion) and a number of procurements have already been announced or are ongoing as part of the modernization efforts. These include the construction of three new submarines, the purchase and upgrade of second-hand F-16s from the United States, trainer aircraft from Brazil and South Korea, the purchase of surplus Leopard 2 tanks and Marder AFVs from Germany, MLRS systems from Brazil and Caesar artillery systems from France among others.

Despite this spending though, Jakarta has been keen to play down such purchases, stating that they are part of a long overdue modernisation of the Indonesian Armed Forces and to a large extent this is the case given the spending squeeze on Indonesia’s military for the better part of a decade following the Asian economic crisis of 1997 and the need for the Indonesian military to recover from the embargoes on military sales and support placed upon Indonesia over East Timor.

 

Army

Until recently this year, much of Indonesia’s modernisation efforts have been focused towards improving its Navy and Air Force with only minimal purchases made for the Army in the form of the indigenously developed and produced Anoa 6×6 of which 158 were ordered in 2008 with 120 delivered by 2012 and an additional 31 ordered in 2012, the delivery of the final three Mi-35 helicopters (out of a five helicopters order) in 2010 and an order made in 2010 for 22 K-21 IFVs from South Korea. However in late 2011, Indonesia moved towards acquiring a Main Battle Tank capability. Initially Indonesia planned to acquire 100 surplus Leopard 2s from Holland but opposition and delays by the Dutch Parliament in approving the deal led to Indonesia to pull out from the deal and turning to Germany to supply the tanks. A total of 103 Leopard 2s, 50 Marder IFVs and 10 support vehicles are being purchased with an initial delivery of 44 Leopards and Marders in November this year.  Also ongoing is a modernisation programme of Indonesia’s AMX-13 light tank, PT Pindad of Indonesia was awarded a contract in September 2011 to carry out work on 12 tanks as an initial beginning with additional tanks to be upgraded subsequently. No details of the modernisation has been revealed but pictures on the internet reveal an upgunning to a 105mm gun for the tank. Indonesia had around 275 AMX-13s in its inventory though the actual number operational is likely half that number.

In addition, it was revealed in September this year that Indonesia had ordered 37 Caesar 155mm artillery systems from France and this was followed by news in October this year that Indonesia has ordered 45 Astros II MLRS systems from Brazil, this order provides a significant boost to the Army’s heavy artillery capabilities which had consisted only of eight 155mm towed FH-2000s along with a large number of towed 105mm guns. The next key procurement for the Army centers upon the purchase of at least eight attack helicopters, initially this was expected to be the AH-64D Apache as in September, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton revealed that the US government had notified Congress of the potential sale of the helicopters,however it appears that Indonesia is reconsidering its options due to concerns on the price of the helicopters. Indonesian media reports state that the cost per unit had risen to $30 million from the initial offer price of $25 million to Indonesia. Reportedly Indonesia is considering other alternate helicopters in the form of the AH-1 Super Cobra or an armed version of the UH-60 Blackhawk.

Navy

The Astros II MLRS system seen in Malaysian service, Indonesia revealed this year that it had ordered 45 launchers © Dzirhan Mahadzir

Given its vast maritime of roughly six million square kilometers, it is not surprising that a strong emphasis has been placed upon expanding and modernising the Indonesian Navy. Still, the numbers posed by the MEF seems to be beyond Indonesia’s financial capabilities, with a requirement for around 300 ships of various classes and at least 12 submarines. With Indonesia’s current fleet standing around 115 ships of various types, including two submarines and an additional three submarines being built, Indonesia would have to carry out an extensive ship building and purchase programme to meet the MEF goal, an unlikely prospect given the costs, particularly for frigates, corvettes and submarines. Coupled to this is also the matter of Indonesia’s aging fleet, some of which date back as far as the Second World War, which further adds to the burden of modernizing and expanding the Navy. Since the commissioning of the four Sigma class corvettes from 2007-2009 and the four Makassar class LPDs from 2007 to 2011, the Indonesian Navy has only commissioned a number of locally manufactured small patrol and attack craft, part of it due to budget constraints which preclude the purchase of large surface ships, but also due to the need to modernise and upgrade existing ships in the inventory. Both the Cakra class submarines underwent overhaul and upgrades to their combat and weapon systems in South Korea with KRI Cakra going through the process in 2006 while the KRI Nanggala completed the process earlier this year. Indonesia confirmed in August this year that an order had been made with South Korea for three submarines with the final submarine to be built in Indonesia. Upgrades were also made to the six Ahmad Yani class frigates with the Harpoon missile systems replaced. There is some uncertainty over the harpoon system replacement, the KRI Oswald Siahaan, from its public firings last year and this year, clearly carries the Russian Yakhont missile systems but pictures of its sister ships indicate replacement launchers that are too small to carry the Yakhont but instead appears to match the Chinese C-802 system.

A number of Indonesia’s fast attack craft like the FPB-57 class KRI Todak are built locally in Indonesia, Indonesia’s new KCR-40 and KCR- 60 FACs are also similarly being built locally © Jin Khoo

Given the cost of new ships, it is not surprising that Indonesia has opted in most cases to have ships domestically built, the final two Makassar class ships were built at the PT PAL shipyards in Surabaya and a number of domestic naval shipbuilding efforts are ongoing. One key programme is the Perusak Kawal Rudal (PKR) 10514 or missile destroyer, a much delayed programme once known as the Korvet Nasional (National Corvette) programme. Although classed by Indonesia as a destroyer, the ship concerned is actually a frigate to be built jointly by Holland’s Damen Schelde and Indonesia’s PT PAL based on Schelde’s Sigma 10514 design. A contract was signed in June this year for one ship with the ship scheduled to be completed in 2017. The cost of the ship is $220 million and includes transfer of technology to PT PAL which would enable future local manufacture of additional ships. No details have been released on the ship’s armament and capabilities but anti-submarine, anti-surface and anti-air capabilities have been listed as requirements for it. At the same time the Indonesia Navy plans to procure the three Nakhoda Ragam OPVs that were built for but then rejected by Brunei. Navy Chief Admiral Soeparno stated that the Indonesian Navy plans to obtain the three ships in the 2013-2014 timeframe at a cost of $380 million though the Indonesian Parliamentary Committee overseeing defence has opposed the plan.

Indonesia is considering purchase of Boeing’s AH-64 Apache Longbow but the final price of the helicopters are a stumbling block © Dzirhan Mahadzir

Another indigenous programme ongoing is the Kapal Cepat Rudal (KCR – Fast Missile Boat) programme, this consists of three designs, the 40m KCR-40 built by PT Palindo, the 60m KCR-60 built by PT PAL and the 63m Stealth Trimaran KCR built by PT Lundin, both the KCR 40 and KCR 60 designs are to carry the Chinese C-705 missile and Indonesia is in discussion with China on licensed manufacturing of the C-705 for domestic use. Manufacturer PT Lundin stated that the Trimaran KCR could be equipped with any type of SSM systems though it is likely that Indonesia planned to equipped it with C-705s. A target of 14 KCRs by 2014 and 44 by 2024 to meet the MEF has been set though currently two KCR40s have been built and commissioned out of an order of four with the third to be delivered this year while three KCR-60s are being constructed. However the KCR Trimaran program received a setback when the KRI Klewang, the first of a four ship order, was extensively gutted in a ship fire on 29th September at the Banyuwangi naval port, East Java while undergoing maintenance checks by manufacturer PT Lundin. The KRI Klewang had only been launched at the end of August and was to have undergone a series of sea trials throughout October prior to full acceptance by the Indonesian Navy. Indonesian Navy Chief Admiral Soeparno however has told the Indonesian media that the Navy is committed to the programme and will continue towards fulfilling the four ship orders which would include a replacement for the KRI Klewang though a revision would be made as to the construction material of

The Stealth Trimaran KCR KRI Klewang, despite the loss of the ship to fire before it began sea trials, the Indonesian Navy remains committed to the four ship programme © PT Lundin

the ship which was thought to be inadequate against fire.

Air Force

Indonesia’s Sukhoi Su-27s and Su-30s are seen here with RAAF F/A-18s during exercise Pitch Black © RAAF

Of the three services, Indonesia’s Air Force was the hardest hit by financial constraints and the impact of sanctions over East Timor and recent years have seen a stepped effort by Indonesia to improve its Air Force. Indonesia ordered six Sukhois Su-30s in 2011 to add to its current mixed fleet of 10 Su-27/Su-30s though questions still abound as to the armaments for the aircraft as no evidence indicate that the Sukhois are equipped with air to air weapons and Indonesia has not publicly confirmed as to any orders made for such. The Air Force also received a further boost with the offer of 24 surplus F-16s from the United States though Indonesia will pay up to $750 million for the upgrades and overhaul of these aircraft. The United States has been said to also have offered in August this year additional surplus F-16s to Indonesia though the Indonesian Defence Ministry, which disclosed the offer, declined to state how many aircraft had been offered. Indonesia is targeting some 180 combat aircraft by 2024 as its MEF goal though it is unlikely that such a number will be reached though Indonesia has initiated efforts that will allow it to reach half that target number. First off was a deal for 16 KAI TA-50 Eagles signed in 2011 and prior to this in July 2010, Indonesia had agreed with South Korea to participate in South Korea’s KFX fighter programme in which Indonesia will contribute 20 percent of the funding for the programme and purchase 50 of the aircraft produced. In 2010, Indonesia also ordered eight Embraer Super Tucano aircraft to replace its OV-10 Broncos, four aircraft arrived in Indonesia in September this year and the remaining four will be delivered in January 2014. A second order for eight aircraft was made in July this year with deliveries scheduled in 2014.

Combat aircraft are not the only focus of Indonesia’s Air Force, given the archipelagic nature of Indonesia and it’s proneness to natural disasters, improvements of the Air Force’s transport capabilities has also been a priority. Indonesia and Australia signed an agreement in July this year that will see the transfer of four RAAF C-130H to Indonesia with reports indicating that Australia could sell an additional six C-130Hs that it will also phase out of service. Indonesia also bolstered its airlift capability this year via an order for nine Airbus C-295s in February, two of the aircraft having since been delivered and the final three aircraft will be manufactured locally by PT Dirgantara Indonesia. Given the local manufacture of the final three aircraft, it is expected that Indonesia is looking towards additional orders of the aircraft. One possibility also is the AEW and C version of the C-295 being marketed by airbus, a capability which Indonesia currently lacks.six Sukhois Su-30s in 2011 to add to its current mixed fleet of 10 Su-27/Su-30s though questions still abound as to the armaments for the aircraft as no evidence indicate that the Sukhois are equipped with air to air weapons and Indonesia has not publicly confirmed as to any orders made for such. The Air Force also received a further boost with the offer of 24 surplus F-16s from the United States though Indonesia will pay up to $750 million for the upgrades and overhaul of these aircraft. The United States has been said to also have offered in August this year additional surplus F-16s to Indonesia though the Indonesian Defence Ministry, which disclosed the offer, declined to state how many aircraft had been offered. Indonesia is targeting some 180 combat aircraft by 2024 as its MEF goal though it is unlikely that such a number will be reached though Indonesia has initiated efforts that will allow it to reach half that target number. First off was a deal for 16 KAI TA-50 Eagles signed in 2011 and prior to this in July 2010, Indonesia had agreed with South Korea to participate in South Korea’s KFX fighter programme in which Indonesia will contribute 20 percent of the funding for the programme and purchase 50 of the aircraft produced. In 2010, Indonesia also ordered eight Embraer Super Tucano aircraft to replace its OV-10 Broncos, four aircraft arrived in Indonesia in September this year and the remaining four will be delivered in January 2014. A second order for eight aircraft was made in July this year with deliveries scheduled in 2014.

Indonesia’s Sukhoi Su-27s and Su-30s are seen here with RAAF F/A-18s during exercise Pitch Black © RAAF

Combat aircraft are not the only focus of Indonesia’s Air Force, given the archipelagic nature of Indonesia and it’s proneness to natural disasters, improvements of the Air Force’s transport capabilities has also been a priority. Indonesia and Australia signed an agreement in July this year that will see the transfer of four RAAF C-130H to Indonesia with reports indicating that Australia could sell an additional six C-130Hs that it will also phase out of service. Indonesia also bolstered its airlift capability this year via an order for nine Airbus C-295s in February, two of the aircraft having since been delivered and the final three aircraft will be manufactured locally by PT Dirgantara Indonesia. Given the local manufacture of the final three aircraft, it is expected that Indonesia is looking towards additional orders of the aircraft. One possibility also is the AEW and C version of the C-295 being marketed by airbus, a capability which Indonesia currently lacks.

 

 

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