17 Juni 2009

The Modernisation Of Indonesia’s Armed Forces (1)

17 Juni 2009

Anoa 6x6 (photo : Defense Studies)

With a manpower level of around 410,000, the Indonesian military occupies a unique place in the country’s hierarchy, one that harks back to its role in the struggle for independence from Dutch colonial masters. For its population, Indonesia’s military is not big.

However, its influence stretches far beyond its size, to touch most aspects of Indonesian life. The primary problem for this Southeast Asian nation is not the size of its military, but rather a lackof funding.


Indonesian Army (TNI Angkatan Darat, TNI-AD)

Mi-35 of the TNI-AD (photo : Jawapos)

Indonesia shares 2,830km of land borders with Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. Conscription is mandated by law, but a draft has never been required. The regular TNI-AD is around 310,000 in size, supplemented by 400,000 reservists. The army has twelve military area commands (KODAM), a strategic reserve command (KOSTRAD, with around 40,000 troops), and a special forces command (KOPASSUS). The Army Aviation Command has helicopter and aircraft squadrons with around 100 craft. The legacy trap is clearly seen in vehicles of the TNI-AD. Many armoured vehicles were acquired in the 1960s, and despite upgrades they are long overdue for replacement. These include 275 AMX-13 and 100 Scorpion light tanks. Other older armoured vehicles are the AMX-VCI, Saladin, Ferret, V-150, BTR-152 and BTR-40. One option for replacing them is the new Panser Anoa 6x6 Pindad from PT Pindad, with 150 ordered so far. While large numbers of replacement vehicles are required, the budget never allows them to be purchased in sufficient numbers. Instead, only incremental dents are made in legacy inventories.

Three Mi-17 helicopters were delivered from Russia in August 2008, with three more awaiting delivery. These will offer HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) applications. Indonesia’s Special Forces continue to modernize their inventory, recently adding improved CNRN capabilities with Remploy been selected to provide its CR-1 personal protection suits in 2008.

Indonesian Navy (TNI Angkatan Laut, TNI-AL)

KRI Frans Kaisiepo-368 a SIGMA class corvettes (photo : Ambalat-Kaskus Militer)

The TNI-AL has 74,000 members and 130+ vessels and is organised into two commands – Eastern Fleet Command in Surabaya, and Western Fleet Command in Jakarta. Indonesia lies adjacent to maritime routes such as the Malacca Strait, through which 60,000 cargo vessels ply annually. The TNI-AL has the immense responsibility of protecting thousands of kilometres of coastline, and thanks in large part to neighbours Singapore and Malaysia, piracy attacks dropped from 220 in 2000 to 70 last year.

Kurgan's BMP-3-tracked amphibious vehicle (photo : Kurganmash)

The TNI-AL also fields the Korps Marinir (KorMar), an amphibious warfare force that doubles as a quick reaction force. There are currently 13,000 Marines, though in 1999 a plan was mooted to increase the force to 23,000 with two Marine forces plus an independent brigade. Because of budget shortfalls, troops rarely train with armoured vehicles, meaning KorMar would be quite ineffective in defence.

A strategic procurement programme was announced for 2005-09 in order to modernize the naval fleet, in which $1.6 billion was allocated for the TNI-AL and $600 million for the Air Force. The Navy requires 22 corvettes, with two of four 1,700-tonne Sigma-class corvettes ordered from the Netherlands already in service. Two more are being built indigenously by the PT PAL shipyard. The new Dutch-built corvettes have Thales TACTICOS command systems and MW08 3D radar. They are equipped with a 76mm Oto Melara gun, MBDA Exocet missiles and Tetral airdefence system. These new corvettes are essential in replacing Kapitan Patimura-class vessels from the former East Germany.

The TNI-AL is planning to acquire 60 patrol vessels within the space of a decade, these being badly needed to replace obsolete vessels and to tackle the rampant problem of piracy. Two Project 636 Kilo-class submarines from Russia are awaiting delivery to supplement its duo of Cakra class submarines from Germany. These Kilo class submarines are part of a $1 billion package with Russia, which also included 22 helicopters and 18 BMP-3F vehicles for the Marines. A $40 million deal for 20 further BMP-3Fs was inked in late August 2008 using arms purchase credits from Russia. These are due for delivery in 2010, and will replace a number of old PT-76s. Indonesia is also considering acquiring landing craft from Russia.

Indonesian Air Force (TNI Angkatan Udara, TNI-AU)

Sukhoi Su-30MK2 (photo : Detik)


The second country in Southeast Asia to acquire an air force capability was Indonesia. The TNI-AU currently has 27,850 personnel and more than 300 aircraft. After the TNI intervened in East Timor following its referendum in 1999, the US and EU imposed arms embargoes against Indonesia. Although the EU lifted its ban in 2000, the USA did not do likewise until November 2005. These sanctions proved how dangerous it is for Indonesia to rely on just one nation for defence equipment. The severe impact of the sanctions cannot be overstated, as exemplified by the F-16A/B Block 15 fleet, with it being reduced to just four serviceable aircraft by the end of the embargo. This state of crisis saw Indonesia’s F-16 and A-4 Skyhawk air combat power reduced to almost zero by 2005. The fleet of 20 C-130 Hercules was reduced to just six serviceable aircraft. One analyst estimated only 30 percent of the TNI-AL fleet was operational, and half of the Air Force fleet was grounded because of these sanctions.

This harsh lesson showed Indonesia it needed to diversify. It turned to Russia, a country that was ironically Indonesia’s leading supplier until 1965, when there was a sharp break in relations. In 2003, a $195 million contract promised two Su-27SK and two Su- 30MK fighters, plus a pair of Mi-35 helicopters. These were partially paid with palm oil, but unfortunately the deal did not include any weaponry. The greatest problem for Indonesia is funding arms deals, but a breakthrough occurred in 2007 when it was announced Indonesia would receive credit from Russian banks. Thus, three Su-27SKM and three Su-30MK2 aircraft plus associated weapons were ordered, enough to field a full squadron. Three aircraft were delivered between December 2008 and February 2009, with the rest due in 2009 despite becoming mired in financial and parliamentary wrangling. Apparently, 16 Indonesian pilots are currently undergoing training in Moscow. According to Lieutenant General Imam Wahyyudi, Deputy Chief of the Indonesian Air Force, the TNI-AU is very satisfied with its Russian fighters, and the eventual requirement is for 16+ aircraft.

Indonesia is also jointly working on two types of UAV with the Russian IRKUT company. The IRKUT-10 and IRKUT-2M UAVs will probably be used by Special Forces. Indonesia has also independently developed the operational Smart Eagle II and BPPT 02A Gagak UAVs. Gagak, a product of the Centre of Industrial Technology for Defence and Security, is currently undergoing flight testing. Indonesia is set to be an important long-term customer for Russia, demonstrating their relationship has gone full circle.

In February 2008 it was announced Indonesia was talking with the US about a deferred instalment payment scheme for six new F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighters and the upgrade of six existing F-16s. As well as reinforcing its F-16 fleet, the TNI-AU wants to modernise its Hercules fleet to C-130J standard.

In the vital area of maritime patrol, Indonesia is using the CN-235-220M MPA. The first was delivered on 6 June 2008 with its Thales Ocean Master 100 Mk II multifunction radar and maritime tracking radar. In March 2008, the TNIAU ordered 16 Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano aircraft from Brazil to replace its OV-10F Broncos. Jakarta is also ordering six further Mi-35 attack helicopters.

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