PartnershipsSoutheast Asia

Australian Bushmasters boost Indonesian Army’s peacekeeping, modernization efforts

Gusty Da Costa

The addition of 15 Bushmaster armored vehicles from Australia will support Indonesia’s defense modernization while boosting interoperability between the nations’ armed forces and highlighting the strong defense ties between the comprehensive strategic partners, officials said.

Provided under a $19.4 million grant from Canberra, the Bushmasters will include 13 troop carriers, one command unit and one ambulance unit, along with parts. Australia also will provide driver and maintenance training for Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) personnel.

“From technical aspects, the vehicles that will be granted are in good condition, ready to be used, and can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of training and operation. These tactical vehicles will support Indonesian military jobs in world peace operations,” Muhammad Herindra, Indonesia’s deputy defense minister, said in a statement.

The vehicles have been upgraded and equipped with features to support peacekeeping missions, and “will also help increase interoperability between our forces,” according to the Australian Defence Department

The Bushmaster, pictured, is well known in Indonesia, retired Indonesian Army Maj. Gen. Jan Pieter Ate told FORUM. In 2013, Jakarta purchased three Bushmasters from Australia for the first time for the nation’s special forces, known as Kopassus.

The Indonesian-made Sanca, a mine-resistant vehicle manufactured by PT Pindad, was inspired by the Bushmaster, Dave Laksono, a lawmaker on Indonesia’s House of Representatives’ Commission I, which oversees defense and foreign affairs, told FORUM.

The Bushmaster is designed to protect its 10 crew members against land mines and other explosives, as well as small-arms fire. It is also equipped to reduce or eliminate the effect of electronic jamming on sensors and weapons.

The addition of the Bushmasters fits the pattern of TNI modernization, said Laksono, which includes the acquisition of 114 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany and eight AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the United States.

“The receiving of the grant will maintain bilateral relationships between Indonesia and Australia, especially in the defense sector and peacekeeping operations,” he said. “The assistance will reduce the allocation of funds for maintenance for the same item from the TNI’s Peacekeeping Mission Center for the long term over three to five years.”

The TNI likely will consider deploying the Bushmasters to peacekeeping missions in Lebanon and Africa, Ate said.

He noted that the grant originated from a September 2021 meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of Australia and Indonesia. The so-called 2+2 meetings are “an excellent platform for Indonesia to embody Indonesia-Australia cooperation,” he said.

At the 2+2 meeting in February 2023, ministers affirmed the nations’ military education and training links, and the expansion of activities between the Australian Defence Force and TNI.

Gusty Da Costa is a FORUM contributor reporting from Indonesia.


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