Indonesia has unveiled a plan to spend U.S. $125 billion during the next three years to upgrade and modernize its military arsenal.
Under the plan, outlined in a draft presidential decree, the government proposes spending U.S. $79.1 billion on military equipment, U.S. $13.4 billion in interest on 25-year loans from foreign sources and U.S. $32.5 billion on contingencies and maintenance. The spending plan covers a period ending in 2024, the year Indonesian President Joko Widodo is due to leave office at the end of his second and constitutionally mandated final term.
The document does not say what types of armaments the government seeks to acquire.
“Investment made during the 2021-2024 period will increase Indonesia’s bargaining position to obtain defense equipment at more affordable prices,” Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, spokesman for Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, tweeted June 2, 2021. “In addition, because the investment is made in a relatively short time, it can be ascertained that all equipment purchased will be interoperable.”
Spending priorities include strengthening the domestic defense industry, the communication system, intelligence and border security, as well as guided munitions and air-defense systems, he said.
Indonesia faces threats including border violations, foreign intervention, separatism and terrorism, the Defence Ministry said. Nonmilitary threats include piracy and cyber espionage.
The Defence Ministry’s budget for 2021 is U.S. $9.6 billion.
Prabowo said the plans were being discussed with the National Development Planning Agency, the Finance Ministry and other stakeholders.
“Many of our defense systems are aging, so replacing them is urgent,” said Prabowo, a former general who commanded the Indonesian Army’s special forces. “This is very important to respond to the ever-changing strategic environment.”
Dahnil said the government hoped the nation would reach an ideal defense posture by 2025 or 2026 and would then not need to buy military hardware until at least 2044.
“The government plans to secure foreign loans for the modernization of defense equipment that is expensive and high-tech, but lasts long to maintain sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security,” Maj. Gen. Rodon Pedrason, Indonesia’s director general of defense strategy, told CNN Indonesia.
In April 2021, Prabowo visited South Korea for the unveiling of a prototype of the KF-X fighter jet, which is being developed by the two nations. (Pictured: A full-scale mock-up of the KF-X fighter jet is displayed at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in South Korea in October 2019.)
In February 2021, Indonesia’s Defence Ministry signaled that it was seeking to buy 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets from France and was set to acquire four Boeing F-15EX fighter aircraft from the United States by 2022.
Indonesia’s plan to modernize its military hardware took on new urgency after the April 2021 sinking of the 44-year-old Navy submarine KRI Nanggala-402, with the loss of 53 lives.
Indonesian Navy spokesman 1st Adm. Julius Widjojono in early June announced the end of efforts to salvage the wreckage of the submarine, which was found broken into three pieces a half-mile below sea level, saying the risks were too great.
He said Indonesia was seeking to acquire up to eight submarines to add to its fleet of four following the sinking.
Indonesia has partnered with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, a South Korean firm, to build submarines. Launched in 2019, the KRI Alugoro-405 is one of three Indonesian submarines ordered from Daewoo and the first to be partly assembled locally.
IMAGE CREDIT: REUTERS