Pride of the nation: Soldiers attend the launch of the warship KRI Beladau at Batu Ampar quay, Batam, on Friday. With a maximum speed of 30 knots, the 44-meter vessel is billed as one of the most sophisticated, domestically built war machines. (Antara/Maha Eka Swasta)
The Defense Ministry accepted its third locally made KCR-40 fast missile boat on Friday, adding to the push to strengthen both the Indonesian Navy and local defense industries.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro officiated the ceremony for the KRI Beladau-643 at Batu Ampar Port in Batam, Riau Islands.
Also attending the ceremony were Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Adm. Agus Suhartono, Navy chief of staff Adm. Marsetyo, and vice president director of Bank Mandiri, Riswandi.
Purnomo said the Beladau was the third KCR-40 to enter the Navy’s service after the KRI Clurit-641 and KRI Kujang-642.
The three vessels were part of a series of acquisitions of 16 KCR-40s until 2014. A fourth vessel will be delivered in November while the remaining 12 KCR-40s will be delivered by 2014.
Earlier this month, the ministry, which has a budget of Rp 81 trillion (US$8.42 billion) this year, revised down its target to reach the required level of weapons systems from three Strategic Plans (Renstra) to two five-year plans.
By procuring the KCR-40s at home, the ministry is maximizing local defense industries through requiring a transfer-of-technology with every purchase of a foreign weapons system.
Manufactured by PT Palindo Marine Shipyard, the KCR-40 will be equipped with Chinese made C-705 anti-ship missiles that have a range of some 150-kilometers. State aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia is expected to locally produce the C-705 missiles by 2017 or 2018.
Meanwhile, Agus expected the new vessel would increase the Navy’s capabilities in safeguarding Indonesia’s vast territorial waters.
The three KCR-40s will be operated by the Western Fleet in the shallow waters around Sumatra, parts of Java and Kalimantan.
Agus also touched on the plan to create a Central Fleet in addition to Eastern and Western Fleets.
“We are studying the organization. We will also create the Sea Defense Command [Kohanla] which will supervise the fleets,” he said, without elaborating on the time frame.
Commenting on the plan to establish the third fleet and Kohanla, Iis Gindarsyah from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said that it was a sign of Indonesia’s aspiration for a green water navy.
“The projection is likely about the security of Indonesia’s maritime borders and strategic sea-lanes,” he told The Jakarta Post. He added that the current situation in the South China Sea had placed greater external pressures on Indonesia.
A green navy is often described as a navy with greater coverage than a traditional littoral brown water navy, but stops short of the expansive power of a blue water navy, which contains aircraft carriers.
In addition to having another fleet, the Navy is also preparing the Third Marines, who will be based in Sorong, West Papua.
The Navy has been modernizing its weapons systems in the past few years with acquisitions and plans to further acquire major weapons systems such as submarines, maritime patrol aircraft, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, light frigates and guided missile destroyers.