Indonesia will continue to modernise its main weapon systems to become, by 2014, Southeast Asia's strongest military power in accordance with its strategic plan.
Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the modernisation drive was related to the United States’ decision to station littoral combat ships (LCS) in Singapore and Australia’s move to relocate its main naval base from Sydney to Brisbane.
He added, however, that the defence policies of both countries were not aimed at Indonesia, but were a response to the South China Sea disputes.
Purnomo was speaking at a press conference after officiating at the launch of two PC-43 fast patrol vessels, manufactured by PT Palindo Marine Shipyard, at Batu Ampar Port in Batam, Riau Islands, on Thursday.
One of the boats, the KRI Pari 849, will be deployed to the Navy’s Eastern Fleet, while the KRI Sembilang 850 will be deployed to the Western Fleet’s Padang Naval Base.
Purnomo said the two patrol boats were part of an order of four PC-43s, having been 10 to 15 years since Indonesia last modernised its weapon systems.
“Now, Indonesia has the wherewithal to update its weapon systems,” he said.
The 43-metre patrol boats are 7 metres wide with a displacement of 250 tonnes. Their maximum speed is 24 knots, with a cruising speed of 17 knots and economic speed of 15 knots and four-day endurance.
Each comes with rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) that are powered by a 75-horsepower outboard engine.
While PC-43s are similar in appearance to KCR-40 fast-missile boats, the patrol boats are not designed to carry missiles. Both types of vessels have a steel hull with an aluminium superstructure.
Meanwhile, Army chief of staff Lt-General Budiman outlined the Army’s plan to modernise its weapon systems, including the acquisition of 16 assault helicopters, 12 light armed scout helicopters and eight AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
The Army also aims to procure 45 Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks, a number of Leopard 2A Evolution tanks and 50 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs).
The Army is also purchasing two battalions of multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) with a range of 115 kilometres and nine batteries of short-range air defence weapon systems for three battalions.
“The Apache attack helicopters will only be delivered in 2017, but the other systems will be deployed to their respective units in the near future,” said Budiman.
Indonesian Military (TNI) commander General Moeldoko said the TNI’s main weapon systems would reach 53 per cent of the strategic plan total by 2014, adding that it had reached 37 per cent this year.