Gusty Da Costa
The growing prowess of Indonesia’s defense industry was on display at the Indo Defense Expo and Forum 2022, the eighth iteration of the biennial event, held November 2-5 in Jakarta. The largest defense exhibition in Southeast Asia also featured the wares of more than 900 firms from 31 countries, as well as seminars on topics such as space and maintenance. Behind the scenes, negotiations progressed for the sale to Indonesia of large defense assets including fighter aircraft and submarines.
The event’s themes were “peace, prosperity and robust security,” Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, a former Army general, said in his opening address. “Indonesia will be in a position of open external relations with all countries, pursuing defense diplomacy, developing indigenous defense technologies, Indonesia’s defense mission to the world, and promoting the defense industry towards self-sufficiency.”
The 158 Indonesian defense firms on hand boasted an array of locally produced assets. Manufacturer PT Pindad displayed its Harimau medium-weight tank, Badak 6×6 fire support vehicle and Maung tactical vehicle. PT Dirgantara Indonesia demonstrated the N210 amphibious plane and other aircraft. Shipbuilder PT PAL presented a new variant of its 163-meter landing platform dock, multirole support ship, along with hospital ships, destroyers and autonomous submarines. PT Dahana displayed rockets and launcher vehicles, anti-tank weapons, portable air-defense systems and smart drones. State-owned consortium Defense ID showed off the KFX/IFX fighter aircraft, jointly developed with Korea Aerospace Industries.
During the Expo, Prabowo witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between PT Dirgantara and the United States-based companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin addressing avionics manufacturing capacity, maintenance, training and technology transfer. (Pictured: Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, left, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, right, attend the Indo Defense Expo and Forum 2022 in November).
“I believe this is a fantastic development,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said about the Expo in his address. “What is critical is that we adopt as many advanced technologies as possible in the military and defense domains. That is what is at stake.”
The planned sale of 36 French-made Rafale fighter jets to Indonesia is also moving forward, First Marshal Oky Yanuar, logistics assistant to the Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff, told FORUM at the Expo. Price negotiations are underway with France’s Dassault Aviation.
The fifth-generation fighters would be deployed equally in central and eastern Indonesia to deter and defend against threats to the nation’s strategic environment, Oky said.
“In the western part, we already have F-16 jet fighters,” he said. “In the central part, we will deploy the jet fighters for the country’s new capital in Kalimantan. And in the eastern part [the deployment] will be in Biak [Papua] facing to the north. Indonesia also has to anticipate an open conflict in the South China Sea.”
PT PAL and the French company Naval Group are also negotiating to build two to six Scorpene-class, diesel-electric combat submarines for Indonesia, a Naval Group representative told FORUM. The deal materialized with a February 2022 memorandum of understanding between the companies. Under the proposed deal, Naval Group will supply technology and components for the submarines to be built in Indonesia by PT PAL.
The Scorpene features stealth technology armament capability, and “can fire both missiles and torpedoes, which makes it different from most submarines,” the representative said.
Gusty Da Costa is a FORUM contributor reporting from Indonesia.
IMAGE CREDIT: INDONESIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE