Dan Enstedt, President and CEO, Saab Asia Pacific, talks about Saab’s activities in Indonesia, the Gripen proposal and how it can be a partner in meeting Indonesia’s defence needs.
Can you brief us on Saab’s activities in Indonesia?
We have always had a strong product presence across the region stretching from Korea to India. Our products have found favour with most countries in South East Asia and have stood the test of time. The Indonesian armed forces have been customers for RBS 70 and Giraffe radars for many years, for example, and we see a lot of potential here across several areas in the future.
Indonesia faces fairly unique challenges ranging from the task of securing such a huge island nation to being the guardian of some of the world’s most sensitive sea routes. There are threats from pirates, illegal fishing, logging and other illicit traffic. All require affordable, high quality surveillance systems that deliver results. For Indonesia, it is not merely a question of adding up the numbers required to police such a vast and complex land and ocean terrain. It is a question of how assets multiply capability through technology.
For example, datalinking between land, air and sea synchronises information quickly and allows you to deploy the best and fastest solution. Saab excels in such solutions which is one reason why the Indonesia defence forces take so much interest in our products.
Something else that is relevant to Indonesia is how Saab and Sweden created technology that was independent of the large powers, due to our unique political stance during the Cold War. Today, we see many parallels with Indonesia which straddles an area that is of interest to virtually all the super powers – all of whom are strongly present in the immediate vicinity. With Indonesia committed to creating a strong, independent domestic defence industry, Saab sees itself a perfect partner that can enable creation of a domestic defence industry due to our philosophy of industrial cooperation.
Gripen E could carry precision-guided glide bomb (photo : Saab)
How does the Gripen meet the future requirements of Indonesian Air Force?
The Indonesian Air Force polices a very large area that includes more than 17,000 islands stretching over nearly 2 million square kilometres. The vast archipelago requires air power that has high operational availability, short time on the ground and the ability to perform multiple roles as situations can morph into threats and require intervention in a very short span of time. Most importantly, the country needs enough aircraft to guard borders that are, in a sense, open from all directions.
Gripen is the first of the new generation, multi-role fighter aircraft to enter operational service. Using the latest technology, Gripen is capable of performing an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions employing the latest weapons. Gripen is an extremely capable fighter aircraft with true multi-role capability and is cost effective to operate over the long run, as opposed to the big, heavy twin-engined competitors.
What are the key features of Saab’s Gripen proposal for Indonesia?
We have offered Gripen C fighter aircraft fitted with the latest MS20 capability upgrade which include the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and the Boeing GBU-39 Small-Diameter Bomb. The Gripen E option is also open depending on what capability Indonesia requires.
Our proposal is quite comprehensive, flexible and directed at contributing to the development of the country’s defence aerospace capabilities. Gripen can meet every operational requirement that Indonesia faces and it is the most combat effective solution for Indonesia.
In addition, we are offering a complete air defence system that includes airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) for maritime surveillance and control, tactical datalinks for sharing data across platforms and ground based command and control.
We are also committed to working with the local industry to support the end user. We believe that a lot of jobs can be created through strong industrial cooperation that includes transfer of technology and local production. For us, it is important to build competence with the local people in the country. We are creating a lot of jobs with our concept, and this is something our competitor does not do. Those are a few things that make our proposal unique.
Globaleye AEW&C (image : Saab)
Will Saab be investing in the civil sector as well?
Yes, Saab sees a very large role in the civil sector.
The big challenge for Indonesia is to build capacity in critical infrastructure: air traffic management, shipping traffic and port management, road and rail transportation. Together, Sweden and Indonesia can increase capacity in all of these sectors with new technology as the key enabler. However, it is not simply a question of buying technology. The critical aspect is to build a domestic capacity that can absorb and master technology, as well as creating capability to manage and operate these systems with the ability to create future platforms.
The key to all this can be found in our ‘triple helix’ approach where companies, government and academic institutions work together. Sweden and Indonesia can work together in a triple helix context to build new capabilities and share innovations that will be the basis for the next generation of green and efficient airports, ports, rail and road transportations while creating efficient infrastructure.
There are other clear areas where Saab’s technology and solutions can make a big difference.
Take the maritime sector. As ships become bigger and bigger, port infrastructure and approaches have to be monitored continuously. While in the past, ships updated their charts based on the latest notices to mariners, ECDIS users can update their charts as often as information becomes available. These services will enable the larger ships to come in under conditions of haze, fog and reduced visibility because of rain. Using these modern technologies, Tanjung Priok and other Indonesian ports can compete more successfully with other ports in the South East Asian region.
Second, take a look at the requirements for airport infrastructure. Indonesia currently has 57 airlines serving 400 domestic and international routes. Many of these airlines are growing at rapid rates. Lion Air has signed contracts over the last three years for over 500 new aircraft. Demand however is outstripping the available aviation capacity. Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta is currently serving 1,100 aircraft movements per day with over 60 million passengers per annum. Its capacity is only 22 million passengers. Saab offers a wide range of solutions designed to support the aviation industry in optimizing the different sectors of air transportation covering air traffic control, airline and airport operations management, and data integration and distribution.
Giraffe 1X radar (photo : Saab)
What is the status of the GBAD programme?
We have a teaming agreement with PT Pindad to market ground based air defence (GBAD) systems and to extend the operational life of the Indonesian Armed Forces’ existing RBS 70 air defence missile system.
Indonesia has been an RBS 70 operator since the 1980s and there is a need to extend the operational like of the missiles that are already in service here. We are working with PT Pindad to achieve that, and this will lay a good foundation for future cooperation. Together, we will work to win the next major GBAD procurement here which we hope will be a success for our advanced RBS 70 NG and radar systems.
PT Pindad is a perfect partner for Saab. We jointly held a workshop at PT Pindad's facilities in Bandung recently to outline our proposal to the MoD and the Indonesian National Armed Forces. At Indo Defence you will be able to come and see the full suite of what we have on offer to Indonesia; the RBS 70 NG with a simulator, the BOLIDE missile and the Giraffe 1X radar – all displayed on PT Pindad’s indoor and outdoor exhibition areas.