The Jakarta Post
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo says the crash of an Air Force C-130 Hercules in Medan, North Sumatra, is a sign that the country must start building and maintaining its own defense industry.
Jokowi said on Wednesday that he had already ordered the Defense Ministry and the Indonesian military (TNI) to reorganize the management and procurement of military equipment.
'We can no longer afford simply to buy military equipment, we must now move to organizing the weapons and military equipment industry; from design and production to operations and maintenance,' he said after a commemoration of the National Police's 69th anniversary at the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Depok, West Java. 'We must also dispose of all weapons and equipment that are obsolete.'
Jokowi argued that the country's military could only be in full control of their weapons and equipment if they were designed and made domestically, instead of relying on foreign equipment, which was sometimes purchased secondhand.
'I also want the TNI to implement a zero-accident policy when using military equipment,' he said.
On Tuesday, the Hercules transport aircraft crashed on its way to Tanjung Pinang, Riau Islands, only two minutes after taking off from Soewondo Air Force Base in Medan.
The plane, which carried 12 crew members and at least 101 passengers, believed to be mainly families of military personnel, was built in the US in 1965, according to the Air Force.
Air Chief Marshall Agus Supriatna has confirmed that the pilot, Capt. Sandy Permana, reported technical problems and asked air traffic control for permission to return to base prior to the crash, according to Antara news agency.
Agus denied that overcapacity was the cause of the crash as he claimed that a C-130 could carry passengers and cargo weighing up to 135 tons. Agus also confirmed reports concerning weapons in the aircraft that crashed; the weapons belonged to Army and Air Force personnel who were being rotated.
At the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base, Jokowi attended a military ceremony to receive the bodies of military personnel killed in the Hercules crash. The bodies ' which had been brought from Medan to Halim aboard two Air Force aircraft ' were officially handed over to their families.
'They died [in the line of duty], along with other passengers on board the Hercules C-130, and left us. We also mourn the loss of civilians in Medan caused by the airplane crash,' Jokowi said during the ceremony.
TNI chief Gen. Moeldoko, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and hundreds of members of the Air Force's Special Forces (Paskhas) also attended the ceremony.
Meanwhile, candidate for the position of TNI commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo expressed his commitment to prioritizing the procurement of weapons systems and military equipment domestically.
'Procurement from abroad will only be done if [the country's defense industries] are not able to produce the necessary equipment,' he said during a confirmation hearing at the House of Representatives' Commission I, which oversees defense, intelligence and foreign affairs.
Gatot explained that he planned to only procure equipment from overseas if the foreign companies agreed to conduct knowledge transfers and joint manufacturing.
Defense Minister Ryamizard dismissed the idea that it was controversial for civilians to be carried on military transportation. 'Civilians have always been allowed to use military transportation. It's fine as citizens should all be treated the same and [being transported by the TNI] makes us closer to them. Taking a ride in a tank is fine too,' he said.
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