The Jakarta Post
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo set a target on Tuesday to improve the capacity of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and defense industry not only to meet the Minimum Essential Force (MEF) targets, but also to transform it into a force to be reckoned with in the region.
In a bid to improve the country's obsolete weapons system, the government earlier implemented a plan to realize the military's MEF blueprint for achieving an independent defense industry by 2024.
Speaking during a meeting with Defense Industry Policy Committee (KKIP) on Tuesday at the Presidential Office, Jokowi pointed out four main priorities for the country's defense policy, including efforts to develop the military to become a well-respected force, to reach self-sufficiency in defense equipment, to meet the country's defensive needs and to make defense policy a part of the comprehensive approach to security.
The President said that the country should no longer depend on imported defense equipment and that efforts (such as bureaucratic reforms) needed to be taken to expedite the transfer of military technology at state-owned defense firms.
'Those [reforms] include measures related to competitiveness and productivity that are designed in such as way that we will be able to partner with such global defense industry players as South Korea, the United States and Western European countries,' Jokowi said.
Obsolete weapons systems have hampered the TNI's ability to guard Indonesia's territorial waters from rampant illegal fishing.
The Defense Ministry has recently pledged to spur the development and production of naval weapons by national defense companies in order to help implement Jokowi's maritime-axis vision. The ministry has also aimed to promote joint cooperation between local and overseas defense firms to give local defense firms essential knowledge and experience that would eventually help them independently produce state-of-the-art armaments for the TNI.
In December 2011, the ministry and South Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) signed a US$1.1 billion contract to manufacture three U-209 diesel-electric submarines. PT PAL's engineers will be given a chance to take a close look at the construction of the first two submarines at a DSME plant in South Korea before they construct the last one at the PT PAL plant in Surabaya.
In the meeting, Jokowi also wanted defense firms to start working on civilian projects.
'For example, Pindad's [light-armored] Anoa vehicles should be used for commercial trucks, PAL's warships can also be used as commercial ships and for fishing, while the DI's [military transport aircraft] CN295 can also be used for civil defense,' he said.
PT Pindad's executive director Silmy Karim said his company was ready to produce non-defense equipment, which would not only encourage the country's defense industry but could also promote economic growth.
'The demands for defense products continue to rise, so we will boost the production of both [defense and non-defense industries],' said Silmy after Tuesday's meeting.
Other than Anoa, Silmy added, Pindad is also looking into production for rail networks and heavy equipment utilizers.
'The meeting supported the idea that we should optimize the country's defense production,' Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said.
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