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Indonesia Navy - A Green-Water Fleet

On 10 September 2001 President Megawati Soekarnoputri said Indonesian needed to develop a strong navy to guard the country's territorial waters. "A strong naval force reflects a nation's dignity, thus (by having one), we can gain the respect of other countries in the world," Megawati said while addressing the 50th anniversary of the Navy Academy in Surabaya, capital of East Java province, on Monday. The president said Indonesia also needed a strong commercial fleet so that the country would not be left behind in international trade.

Since 2001, Indonesia had begun a more extensive modernization of their navy, with the goal of developing an effective, formidable green-water fleet able to protect Indonesia's territorial waters, and a strong commercial fleet to improve Indonesia's international trade. The Indonesian Navy's current strategic planning was known as Navy Blueprint 2013, or TNI-AL Blueprint 2004-2013. This was divided into three phases of which the first runs from 2003-07. In addition to building a formidable navy, Indonesia's current strategic planning aims ensure that the Indonesian navy was technologically equal or superior to the naval forces of its neighboring countries. Navy Blueprint 2013 also requires a force level of eight submarines.

Indonesia aims to have a “Green-Water Navy” by 2024 – a navy second to none in Southeast Asia. Some find this expectation far-fetched given past experience, but recent and projected increases in military spending may prove the sceptics wrong. The "Green-Water Navy” blueprint proposed a 274-ship force structure by 2024, consisting of a Striking Force of 110 ships, a Patrolling Force of 66 ships, and a Supporting Force of 98 ships. The TNI-AL 2005 “Green-Water-Navy” blueprint gave priority to interdicting an enemy’s SLOCs in Indonesian waters, preventing enemy seaborne forces from mounting amphibious landings, and denying the enemy a beachhead access. Hence, mine-laying vessels and submarines were among the top priorities to be acquired by 2024.

Submarine procurement has already been in the Navy’s wish-list since 2005, when it unveiled the “Green-Water-Navy” blueprint. But, tender processes have been frequently postponed, citing financial reasons. The last one saw the Navy opting for Russian Kilo-and Amur-class subs, but was shelved as Indonesia was unable to commit a 15% down payment.

Starting in 2005 Indonesia began to buy more modern patrol craft. Indonesia planned to buy up to 60 modern patrol vessels over the next decade to strengthen maritime security and catch up with its technologically advanced regional counterparts. Indonesia's navy had a fleet of 129 patrol vessels before 2005. The Navy had acquired 13 new vessels since 2003 and had budgeted to buy at least five to six new boats each year.

Navy Blueprint 2013 was reported to involve the construction of 22 new warships in stages. In February 2005 it was reported that Indonesia's Navy planned to buy up to 60 modern patrol vessels over the next decade to strengthen maritime security and catch up with its technologically advanced regional counterparts. Indonesia had the biggest Naval force in Asia but it lags behind its Asian peers in terms of armament and technology, navy chief Admiral Bernard Kent Sondakh was quoted as saying by state Antara news agency. "Other Asian countries have smaller fleet strength but their warships are newer and have a higher mobility, while our vessels are almost obsolete and some are second-hand ones," he said. He said the Navy had a fleet of only around 129 patrol vessels, deemed insufficient to patrol the world's largest archipelagic nation which had long been the world's top piracy black spot. The Navy had acquired 13 new vessels since 2003 and had budgeted to buy five to six new boats each year, but it may increase its annual purchase to 10 ships if the economy strengthens over the next three years, he said. "Within 10 years, we will be able to have 50 or 60 new patrol vessels. If our economy improves, I believe the target (of 10) could also be achieved," he said.

On 31 July 2006, Chief of Indonesian Navy, Admiral Slamet Seobijanto outlined the plan for the development of Navy capabilities. The plan was actually restating what had been revealed a year earlier on the “green water navy” capability project. This plan was crucial to secure entire Indonesia archipelago from different kind of risks and threats. Adm Soebijanto previously stated that the long-term aim was to establish an effective ‘green water navy’ by 2020. “A green water navy represents a level of sea power higher than that of a brown water (or coastal) navy but below a full blue water navy,” he explained in an internal document.

A force level of eight submarines was said to be required. There were plans to order two new submarines from Germany during 2007 and there were also plans to procure submarines from South Korea. Admiral Bernard Kent Sondakh of the Indonesian Navy announced in January 2004 that the service planned to buy four new submarines from South Korea for $270 million. Sondakh said the four submarines were expected to enter service in 2008, joining Indonesia's two German-made U-209-class submarines purchased in 1977 However, it later appeared that Indonesia had selected Russia as the supplier of submarines. The Indonesian cabinet on 16 November 2006 reportedly approved the purchase of two submarines from Russia as part of a five-year weapons acquisition program guaranteed by a Russian loan. Other reports indicated that there were plans to procure four Kilo class and two Amur class submarines.

Indonesia's capacity to enforce order in its waters had been stretched by lack of funding and poor maintenance of its ships. This was an issue for the Indonesian navy that cannot necessarily be resolved by modernization of technology and armament. According to Indonesian defense minister Juwono Sudarsono, as of 2006 only 60 percent of Indonesia's fleet of 124 ships was operational. By contrast, the chief of staff of the Indonesian navy, Admiral Slamet Soebijanto, estimated that at least 302 ships and 170 aircraft were required to protect Indonesia's archipelago of seventeen thousand islands. Although Indonesia was acquiring new patrol boats, it asked the United States for military assistance in the form of training and support in order to build its enforcement capacity. Indonesia stressed, however, that foreign military presence was out of the question.

In June 2007 Russian state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport signed a contract with the Indonesian navy to produce corvettes based on Russia's Project 20382 Steregushchy ship. In September 2007, Russia and Indonesia reached an agreement for Russia to give Indonesia a $1 billion loan to buy 22 helicopters, 20 tanks, and 2 Kilo-class submarines from Russia. In October 2008, Indonesian navy chief of staff Tedjo Edhy Purdijanto visited Moscow to examine Russian surface and submarine shipbuilding capacity, and to discuss closer Russian-Indonesian military-technical cooperation.

Indonesia had been busy modernising its maritime forces and unveiled plans to procure eight corvettes, three landing ship tanks, and four fast patrol craft for counter-piracy operations. Indonesia ordered four corvettes; based on the Sigma 9113 design and all were to be built in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. The first of the Sigma-class corvettes ordered in 2004 and 2005, KRI Diponegoro was commissioned on July 2, 2007 by Indonesian Navy Chief Staff Admiral Slamet Soebijanto. The second, KRI Hasanuddin, was commissioned on Nov 24, 2007.

In 2008, Indonesia gradually began to install seven radars provided by the US in the Makassar Strait to support security efforts in the major sea lane. Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono stated the installation of seven radars was meant to support ASEAN maritime defense and security. The US previously provided Indonesia with five surveillance radars that were set up along the Malacca Strait to support security.

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Page last modified: 31-08-2013 18:54:05 ZULU