08 Oktober 2014
The Indonesian Navy will equip its Bung Tomo-class corvettes with the AS565 Panther helicopter (photo : Kaskus Militer)
The Indonesian Navy (Tentera Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) will equip its three Bung Tomo-class corvettes with AS565 Panther anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters from Airbus Helicopters, a navy source told IHS Jane's on 6 October in Surabaya, Indonesia.
The lead ship in class, KRI Bung Tomo (357), conducted trials with an AS365N Dauphin 2 on 29 September. The trials, which included touch-and-go operations and landings, were held in the seas of central Java ahead of the vessel's appearance at the Indonesian Armed Forces Day celebration on 7 October.
According to the source, the Dauphin 2 involved in the recent trials is on loan from Indonesia's search-and-rescue body (Badan SAR Nasional, or BASARNAS). However, the trials were conducted with the aircraft sporting TNI-AL livery to "keep the exercises realistic," the source said.
"The AS365N Dauphin 2 is similar to the AS565 Panther in terms of physical and operational aspects. The trials with the AS365N are being conducted progressively on the Bung Tomo-class corvettes with the intention of equipping the class for the AS565 Panther when it arrives", said the source. "While waiting for the Panther helicopters to arrive, the crew of the ships are being familiarised to operate with a similar aircraft".
The TNI-AL announced in May 2014 that it was acquiring 16 AS565 Panther helicopters that will be configured for ASW. Some of the platforms will be deployed on the service's Sigma 10514-class guided-missile corvettes.
The decision to purchase the AS565 was made at the recommendation of state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), which will be involved in the production of the aircraft. No details on the delivery schedule are yet available.