15 November 2010

Indonesian Armed Forces: Continued Modernisation (1)

15 November 2010

BTR-80A (photo : Seasickers)

In mid-August, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced the FY20 1 1 defence budget would undergo a significant 13 percent hike. The budget will rise to IDR45.2 trillion ($5billion), compared to IDR42.3 trillion this year. This will be welcome news for the Indonesian National Armed Forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI), which has endured severe under funding and neglect for years. The funding increase will be allocated to, “improve the welfare of soldiers and revamp systems to meet the minimum essential force,” stated President Yudhoyono. This latest budget represents a doubling in
defence spending since FY2005 when IDR21 .97 trillion was allocated.

After 32 years of Suharto autoc­racy, Indonesia has made a rather stunning transition to democracy. In power since October 2004, President
Yudhoyono was re-elected on 8 July 2009 with a 60.8 percent majority. Indonesia’s first democratically elected principal has to a large extent been consolidating control over the 432,000-strong military. He has moved carefully to cultivate friends in high military posts, as illustrated by the September 2009 inauguration of Army Chief of Staff, Lt.Gen. George Toisutta. Yudhoyono’s brother-in- law, Maj.Gen. Pramono Edhi Wibowo, was also promoted to Siliwangi military com­mander in December 2009.

Under the tutelage of President Yudhoyono, the TNI is witnessing greater cohesion and more balanced development. The government is implementing a “Minimal Essential Force” (MEF) programme designed to defend the state’s ideology and territorial integrity, protect the nation’s honour and safety, and enforce the law in Indonesian ter­ritory. Professionalism of the military was to be enhanced by Law No.34/2004, which decreed all military businesses be surren­dered by 16 October 2009. Official data from 2007 (the latest available) disclosed the mili­tary as having $350 million in gross business assets reaping an annual profit of $28.5 mil­lion. All businesses were to shut down or be handed over to the Indonesian Military Business Management Body (BPBTNI). However, with the 2009 deadline having passed, this had still not fully occurred. On 15 April 2010, a review was announced to ensure all remaining TNI business interests would come under governmental control by the end of this year. It is hoped this divesti­ture of entrepreneurial activities will result in a more professional military force.

Since 2000, more people have been killed by terrorists in Indonesia than in any country except the US. The most recent attack was the bombing of Jakarta’s JW Marriott and Ritz- Carlton hotels on 17 July 2009. However, the nation has enjoyed success in the fight against Islamic extremism. The Malaysian Noordin Top, Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorist, was killed in Central Java on 17 September 2009. This success struck Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) a mighty blow, followed three weeks later by the death of his accomplices, Syaifudin Zuhri bin Jaelani and his brother. Dulmatin, another senior JI figure, was killed in March 2010. However, whilst these successes have put pressure on militant organisations, Islamic extremism is far from banished.

Sea Changes

Indonesia would like a more significant regional influence, and with the army essen­tially an internal security force and the Air Force hampered by high capital costs, per­haps the Navy has the greatest potential to project power. The Indonesian Navy (TNI Angkatan Laut, TNI-AL) has pinpointed three strategies to fulfil its MEF obligation: procure new weapon systems by prioritising domestic industries; increase existing system capabilities; and phase out ineffective sys­tems. “Our main priority now is security in sea border areas and the outer islands of Indonesia,” Navy Chief of Staff, Admiral Agus Suhartono, said, especially the crime-prone western waters. Regular patrolling with India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia has resulted in dropping maritime crime in the Malacca Strait area. ADM Agus claimed the Navy prevented IDR13.8 trillion in state losses in 2009 by preventing illegal activities such as fishing and logging.

PKR-105 light frigate (photo : Defense Studies)

The Navy envisions a 274-ship green-water navy divided into: a Striking Force (110 ships), Patrolling Force (66 ships) and Supporting Force (98 ships) located at 59 naval bases. To cre­ate such a force, the TNI-AL will be procur­ing corvettes and fast missile boats, at the same time replacing older vessels. The fourth and final Dutch-built Sigma 9113-class corvette was commissioned in March 2009, armed with MM40 Exocet Block II and MBDA Mistral missiles. Indonesia’s National Corvette programme stalled because of funding issues, but it has been resurrected by a contract on 16 August 2010 to locally build a Sigma 10514-class corvette. Called Guided Missile Escort 105 M (Perusak Kawal Rudal, PKR), it will take four years before the first 2,400-ton corvette is delivered by PT PAL. Local content will be around 35 percent. This is a small but signif­icant step for the navy, especially as Indonesia needs to standardise weapon plat­forms; the TNI presently operates 173 main weapon systems from 17 countries!

For years the local shipbuilding industry has been ailing, but led by PT PAL there is cause for optimism. PT PAL has previously developed fast patrol boats, and in March 2010 the second of two new 125m-long Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ships was launched in Surabaya. The Makassar-class LPD was developed in conjunction with the Daewoo in South Korea, this company having already built two 7,300-ton LPDs for Indonesia. These four LPDs will be vital assets for domestic missions and disaster relief mis­sions around the disaster-prone archipelago. Growing in confidence, Indonesia’s shipbuild­ing industry has set its sights on developing a 190m 35,000-ton helicopter carrier. PT PAL has also been enlisted to construct seven tank landing ships (LST) to replace six US-built LSTs that have been serving more than 40 years. However, the resurgence of PT PAL comes at a cost, with the once struggling com­pany undergoing a two-year restructuring programme. The process will be severe, with up to half of the company’s 2,400 employees expected to be dismissed. In March alone, 900 jobs were cut during the rationalisation.

CN-235 maritime patrol (photo : Defense Studies)

The TNI-AL will receive a trio of CN235- 220 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) from PT Dirgantara after a $80 million contract was signed on 11 December 2009, bringing to six the number of such aircraft in service. The aircraft sensor suites will allow fishery and marine traffic surveillance, search-and-res­cue, anti-smuggling, anti-terrorism, and anti- surface and anti-submarine warfare mis‑sions. Indonesia has a huge 7.9 million square-kilometre EEZ to protect, and these new aircraft will allow retirement of the GAF N-22 Nomad aircraft fleet that has been rav­aged by accidents.

Indonesia fitted Chinese C-802 anti-ship missiles onto PB-57 large patrol craft in 2008, but the Navy announced it will be ordering dozens more C-802s in the future, possibly via local production. They are destined for use on fast patrol boats and Van Speijk-class frigates. Discussions also took place on pur­chasing the smaller C-705 anti-ship missile for fast patrol boats. Indonesia remains dependent on foreign suppliers for such sophisticated weaponry, although PT PAL is capable of integrating weapon systems onto existing vessels.

As neighbours like Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam develop submarine fleets, Indonesia is seeking to do the same. The country is reactivating plans to acquire two diesel-electric submarines by 2014. The Russian Kilo 636 and South Korean-built Type 209 had been shortlisted, but the pro­gramme was curtailed by a lack of funds. According to reports in April, this project is to be retendered, with PT PAL to act as local contractor for technology transfer. The 20 Russian BMP-3F infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) ordered previously are now entering service with the Marine Corps.

(Asian Military Review)

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