RI looks to Russia for submarines with multi-role missile systems
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
Indonesia is in talks with Russia on the purchase of a number of Kilo Class submarines, as the country expands its deterrent capabilities in anticipation of future regional disputes.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on Friday that a team of officials, led by Navy chief of staff Adm. Marsetio, would head to Russia at the end of this month to initiate a deal and assess the technical capabilities of the arsenal.
'There is a plan for a massive build-up of our submarine fleet,' Purnomo said in a press conference after an hour-long closed-door meeting with Russian Ambassador to Indonesia and ASEAN Mikhail Galuzin.
Purnomo said he could not provide more details as the ministry was still awaiting reports filed by Marsetio regarding his planned visit to Russia. 'Further to his report, we can then decide whether to buy new submarines or modernize
According to Marsetio, Indonesia required 'at least one submarine to cover each sea choke point' (a strategic narrow point of passage).
He said in total, the country needed a minimum of 12 submarines, as laid out in the Defense Ministry's Minimum Essential Force strategy.
The ministry refused to detail the allocated budget for the submarines.
Between 2008 and 2013, defense spending has increased by an average 22 percent to Rp 81.5 trillion this year, according to the Finance Ministry. The budget is slated to rise to Rp 83.5 trillion next year.
The planned submarine purchase will be in addition to the three U-209 submarines currently being built by South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) and state-owned shipyard PT PAL Indonesia.
The three submarines will be delivered between 2015 and 2016, and will add to the existing two Kilo Class submarines procured in 1978 from the former West Germany.
Purnomo said the ministry's interest in Russian submarines was based on their advanced cruise-missile system, with which they can accurately target an object at a range of 300 to 400 kilometers.
Submarines are known to be effective war machines that can act as a deterrent because of their capacity for stealth.
The ministry is also considering a number of weaponry options to be fitted on the existing submarines, such as procuring the Klub-S missile system, as well as fitting them with the supersonic, anti-ship Yakhont missile.
Indonesia has a long history of operating submarines from the former Soviet Union, now Russia. In 1967, it acquired 12 Whiskey Class submarines from the Soviet Union.
The new submarines may well be housed at a newly established naval base in Palu, Central Sulawesi, of which only 2.8 hectares of its total 13 hectares have so far been developed.
Natural protection against extreme ocean currents is also considered to be a necessary requirement for a submarine base.
The Palu Naval Base will in the future not only serve as a forward base but also a main naval base.
In response to whether the submarines had anything to do with the current spat with Australia, Purnomo diplomatically said: 'We never mentioned in our defense white paper that there will be any threat from the South [namely, Australia]'.
The government recently suspended its cooperation with Australia in the areas of military and defense, joint-patrols against people smuggling, as well as intelligence and information sharing, resulting in the two nations' relations plunging to their lowest level since the late 1990s.
The souring of relations was triggered last month by allegations that Australia's intelligence agency had eavesdropped on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and Cabinet ministers in 2009.
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