Indonesian Navy plans fleet expansion

Indonesia’s Navy plans to buy up to 60 modern patrol vessels over the next decade to strengthen maritime security and catch up with its technologically advanced regional counterparts, a report said today.

Indonesia has the biggest Naval force in Asia but it lags behind its Asian peers in terms of armament and technology, navy chief Admiral Bernard Kent Sondakh was quoted as saying by state Antara news agency.

“Other Asian countries have smaller fleet strength but their warships are newer and have a higher mobility, while our vessels are almost obsolete and some are second-hand ones,” he said.

He said the Navy had a fleet of only around 129 patrol vessels, deemed insufficient to patrol the world’s largest archipelagic nation which has long been the world’s top piracy black spot.

The Navy has acquired 13 new vessels since 2003 and has budgeted to buy five to six new boats each year, but it may increase its annual purchase to 10 ships if the economy strengthens over the next three years, he said.

“Within 10 years, we will be able to have 50 or 60 new patrol vessels. If our economy improves, I believe the target (of 10) could also be achieved,” he said.

Antara also quoted a senior navy official, Rear Admiral Bijah Soebijanto, as saying that the Indonesian Navy would require at least 302 warships and 170 aircraft to defend its sea lanes.

“At least 2.7 trillion dollars is required for the purpose,” he estimated.

The Navy, which has lamented the fact its fleet can sail but not fight because of ageing engines or weaponry, last year said it would buy two submarines equipped for modern warfare from South Korea.

Security experts said Indonesia’s Navy lacked manpower and equipment and good maritime intelligence to deter maritime crime.

The International Maritime Bureau has said Indonesian waters remained the world’s most pirate-infested last year, followed by the Malacca Strait despite joint military patrols in the busy waterway bordered by Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
Source: AFP

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