Jakarta to buy submarines from Bonn

Deal in line with Abri’s five-year development plans

THE Indonesian navy, in a move to strengthen its fleet, will purchase an undisclosed number of U-206 submarines from Germany this year.

Indonesia’s navy chief, Admiral Arief Kushariadi, was quoted by the Antara national news agency yesterday as saying that a memorandum of understanding would be signed next month to buy the second-hand submarines.

He did not indicate how many would be bought and how much the deal would cost.

But the Defence and Security Ministry said recently that the navy was drawing up plans to buy at least six submarines from European countries.

Jane’s Defence Weekly, in a report last month, said the deal could involve five U-206 submarines from the German navy.

The announcement about the submarine purchase came on the heels of a policy statement just over a week ago by Defence and Security Minister Edi Sudradjat.

“To guarantee maritime security, the number of of patrol ships will be increased to meet the needs for safeguarding national jurisdiction territory,” he said.

He also said that the defence budget, which last year stood at US$2.3 billion (S$3.3 billion) or 1.8 per cent of the gross domestic product, could be increased by between 2 and 3 per cent.

Indonesian armed forces (Abri) sources told The Straits Times that the purchase of the submarines was in line with Abri’s five-year development plans. A budget increase would boost the navy and air force’s drive to modernise their fleets.

On the navy’s plans to purchase the German-built submarines, a senior Abri officer said: “Indonesia is an archipelagic state. So it is understandable why the navy will want to beef up its strength to deal with difficulties that might arise.

“We believe that buying submarines will increase our flexibility to deal with any potential maritime problems that might arise.”

The Abri source, a two-star general, denied that they would be used to patrol the Natuna Islands, where a gas field lies 100 km within territory claimed by China.

Antara quoted the Defence Attache of the Germany Embassy here, Lieutenant-Colonel Bruno Hasenpusch, as saying that the diesel-powered U-206 submarines, each of which can carry 26 crew members, would be suitable to control shipping lanes in Indonesian waters.

The Indonesian navy currently has two U-209 submarines, also German-built.

Lt-Col Hasenpusch said the Indonesian navy would have little difficulty adjusting to the U-206 because its performance and technology was very similar to that of the U-209.

He added that before being commissioned, the submarines would be modified to suit the requirements of the Indonesian navy.

The navy currently has 17 frigates, 57 patrol and coastal combat craft, 35 patrol craft, 13 anti-mining vessels, 28 amphibios vessels, and 15 other ships for support.

Posted in Indonesia