Local weapons ramped up
Novan Iman Santosa
The Jakarta Post
Seven indigenous weapons systems will be developed and produced this year to modernize the domestic arsenal, strengthen local defense industries and reduce dependence on foreign suppliers.
The systems are submarines, jet fighters, medium tanks, missiles, radars, propellants and communication devices, Silmy Karim, the Defense Industry Policy Committee (KKIP) special staff for cooperation and institutional relations, said Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference at the ministry, Silmy said the systems would be developed with particular attention to the country's archipelagic geographical condition.
'We will also develop indigenous amphibious armored vehicles because we have so many islands,' he said. 'We also want to develop our own unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV].'
On Monday, the House of Representatives' Commission I approved the disbursement of US$250 million to state-owned shipyard PT PAL to build the country's first locally-made submarine with technical assistance from South Korea.
Indonesia signed a contract in 2011 with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) to build three submarines worth some $1.07 billion. Two will be built in Korea while the third will be built in PT PAL's facilities in Surabaya, East Java.
The work on the third submarine will start in 2015, it is slated for completion in 2018.
'As submarines and jet fighters are long-term projects, they have been designated as national programs to safeguard continuity,' said Silmy.
Despite the order of three submarines from Korea, KKIP implementation team head, Adm. (ret) Sumardjono said that Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro had also set a policy to procure Kilo-class submarines from Russia in motion.
'This is a stop-gap measure as we need 12 submarines to safeguard our waters,' he said.'
'Five of nine strategic maritime choke points are located in our territory.'
Earlier in January, the South Korean government announced the continuation of the KFX/IFX jet fighter project. The prototype is expected in the next decade.
The medium-tank project is being developed in cooperation with Turkish company FNSS Defense System, which Silmy said would be a clean-slate design.
'Considering our geographical condition, we also need a lighter tank but with heavy firepower [to accompany the Leopard 2 main battle tank],' he said.
Indonesia signed an agreement with Turkey to develop the tank in May 2013.
State-owned weapons and land system maker PT Pindad will jointly design and develop the tank with FNSS Defense System, a joint venture between Turkish industrial group Nurol Holding and British defense giant BAE System.
While there is already a cooperation with China to locally build C-705 anti-ship missiles, Silmy said the KKIP was still looking at partners for the local production of radar and communication devices.
'We will soon have a propellant factory, which is important if we want to develop our own ammunition, missiles and rockets,' he said, without revealing what country the cooperation would be with.
'The propellant can also be used by Pindad to make large caliber ammunition for our tanks and artillery guns.'
Silmy emphasized that by mastering the technology to build these weapon systems, 'we will no longer be easily dictated'.
The Defense Ministry was assigned a budget of Rp 83.4 trillion ($7.08 billion), the largest among other ministries and agencies as well as the highest ever recorded, from the 2014 State Budget.
Silmy, however, underlined that the defense budget was only at 0.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) while Singapore was at 4 percent. (dhi)
State-owned defense industries
'¢ PT PAL
Products: Surface vessels for commercial, security and military missions
Project: Building Indonesia's first ever locally-made submarine under technical assistance from South Korea
'¢ PT Pindad
Products: Small firearms, ammunition, armored vehicles
Project: Medium tank with Turkish FNSS Defense System
'¢ PT Dirgantara Indonesia
Products: Airplanes and helicopters
Project: KFX/IFX jet fighter in a joint cooperation with South Korea
'¢ PT Dahana
Products: Explosive for commercial and military missions
Project: High-explosive plastic bombs for special forces
Source: Various sources
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