09 Maret 2012

Army Considers German Tank Offer May be Best Option

09 Maret 2012

Germany's Leopard MBT (photo : Militaryphotos)

The Indonesian Army revealed on Thursday that Germany’s offer of the Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks (MBTs) was much more interesting than those offered by the Netherlands.

“Germany’s offer is more promising in terms of filling in the gap. Besides, the Netherlands still has problem with its parliament [in terms of the deal],” Indonesian Military (TNI) chief of staff Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo said as quoted by Antara news agency on Thursday.

He said Germany not only offered the transfer-of-technology but also the possibility of joint production in which state-owned arms manufacturers PT Pindad could make some parts for the 60-ton tank.

The Germans, he said, even challenged the readiness of domestic defense industries because good preparation was needed to maintain high-technology systems and it took long time to master them.

“We cannot produce it [the MBT] in three years. The technology isn’t simple,” he said, admitting that the service would also buy the MBTs from Germany.

The Indonesian Army said it needed to modernize its weapons systems with MBTs because it only had light tanks such as the British-made Scorpion and French-made AMX13, which weighed 8 and 14 tons respectively.

Initially, Indonesia planned to buy German-made MBTs at a discounted price as the Dutch government was implementing harsh defense budget cutbacks that included disbanding its armored divisions in the wake of the economic downturn in Europe.

The plan was to buy 50 units of the 2A4 and another 50 units of the 2A6 variants of the MBT at a total price of US$280 including the cost of upgrading the A4 variant to the A6 standard.

Russian MBT T-90 (photo : Militaryphotos)

The plan, however, is reportedly on the brink of collapsing due to the Dutch parliament’s indecisive stance on the issue. The GreenLeft minority political party in the Dutch parliament voiced its concerns over selling the MBTs to Indonesia, claiming that there was a possibility of the MBTs being used to suppress human rights in Indonesia.

On Tuesday, Defense Deputy Minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin said the ministry had given the Dutch until the end of March to decide whether or not to sell its surplus Leopard MBTs, after which Indonesia would look for other sources.

Besides the Dutch and the German governments, Russia reportedly has offered its T90 tank to the Indonesian government, which already earmarked Rp 150 trillion (US$16.41 billion) until 2014 for modernizing its weaponry to meet the so-called minimum essential force (MEF). (sat/nvn)

(The Jakarta Post)

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