Charting new waters [ID18D3]

09 November 2018

With a vast archipelago to safeguard, the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL)) is continuing its modernisation efforts with the introduction of new submarines, frigates and helicopters.

Moreover, President Joko Widodo has put forward a vision of Indonesia as a 'Global Maritime Axis', intrinsic to which is the modernisation of the nation's maritime defence capability.

All this is occurring against the backdrop of China's increasingly muscular presence in regional waters, and its accelerated construction of artificial islands across sea areas it claims in the South China Sea. Although Indonesia is not a claimant to the South China Sea disputes, Beijing's unilaterally declared nine-dashed line demarcation overlaps with Jakarta's claim for an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the Natuna Islands cluster.

Also, Chinese fishermen have been increasingly accused of encroaching into Indonesian territorial waters. Some of these alleged encroachments have resulted in high-profile collisions involving agencies such as the China Coast Guard and the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

The single most important naval acquisition programme is the introduction of three new DSME 1400 Nagapasa-class diesel-electric submarines, which were ordered from South Korean shipbuilder DSME in late 2011. First of-class KRI Nagapasa (403) was commissioned in August 2017, with the second boat, KRI Ardadedali (404) handed over at DSME's Okpo yard in April 2018. The third boat is currently being built at PT PAL's facilities in Surabaya under a transfer of technology arrangement, with delivery expected in 2021.

Evolved from the German Type 209/1200 design originally licensed to DSME in the late 1980s, the Nagapasa-class boats are built to the modified DSME 1400 design. Key features include a Kongsberg MSI-90U Mk 2 command and weapon control system, the Wärtsilä ELAC KaleidoScope sonar suite (consisting of a cylindrical array, a flank array, an acoustic intercept sonar and a mine avoidance sonar), a combination of Hensoldt Sero 400 + OMS 100 periscope and non-hull penetrating optronic mast systems, and a Safran navigation system (incorporating two Sigma 40XP laser gyro inertial reference units, a computer, and safety-critical navigation software).

Indonesia already operates two smaller Type 209/1300 submarines, KRI Cakra and KRI Nanggala, built in Germany by HDW and commissioned in 1981. Both boats have undergone refits and upgrades designed to keep them in service through to the mid-2020s.

At Indo Defence 2016, the Ministry of Defence's research and development branch revealed it had been working on the design and build of a 22m mini-submarine in conjunction with PT Palindo Marine. The TNI-AL has subsequently indicated that this boat is intended for test and evaluation purposes, and will not join the operational fleet.

Indonesia's Minimum Essential Force (MEF) defence modernisation plan had scoped a requirement for a force of 12 submarines by 2024 to address the proliferation of advanced submarines across the region. However, it became public knowledge in early 2018 that this headmark had been scaled back to eight boats, with work now underway to establish final requirements ahead of launching an acquisition programme. Options from Russia, Turkey and France have all been touted.

The most notable recent additions to the TNI-AL's surface fleet are the frigates KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata and KRI Gusti Ngurah Rai, both of which were acquired under the Perusak Kawal Rudal (PKR) programme. Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, as prime contractor, signed a contract in December 2012 for the first ship, with an option for the second exercised in mid- 2013. Modular construction of the ships, built to the SIGMA 10514 design, has been shared between the Vlissingen, Netherlands, facility of Damen Schelde and PT PAL in Surabaya, with final assembly, integration and test performed in Indonesia.

The two PKR ships were both delivered in 2017. While the baseline ship fit included a core mission system supplied by Thales Nederland - including the TACTICOS combat management system, SMART-S Mk 2 surveillance radar, STIR 1.2 EO Mk 2 radar/electro-optical tracking system and Kingklip hull-mounted sonar - the only weapon system included in the original contract was a single Leonardo 76/62 Super Rapid gun.

However, space, weight and service provisions were included in the SIGMA 10514 design to enable the retrofit of additional 'fitted for but not with' (FFBNW) weapon systems, including a point defence missile system, a surface-to-surface missile system, and a close-in weapon system.

In July 2016, Damen Schelde was contracted by the Indonesian MoD to procure these systems, together with other FFBNW ship equipments. The full list comprises the MBDA VL Mica point defence missile system (with space for 12 canistered missiles), the MBDA MM40 Block 3 Exocet surface-to-surface guided weapon, the Rheinmetall Millennium 35mm revolver cannon, Leonardo B515 triple torpedo tubes for A244 lightweight torpedoes, Thales Target Designation Sights, the Thales Vigile 100 electronic support measures system, and the Thales Scorpion jammer.

A new class of large surface combatant forces is part of the MEF blueprint. The TNI-AL is currently finalising requirements for a class of up to four ships.

As regards naval aviation, the TNI-AL is receiving 11 AS565 MBe Panther helicopters from PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) under a contract signed in 2014. Under the terms of the contract, Airbus Helicopters has built the basic AS565 MBe air vehicles at Marignane, France, for delivery to Indonesia. PTDI, acting as design authority, is then taking responsibility for reassembly and outfit of the helicopters in-country at its Bandung facility. This includes the installation of an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) suite co-developed with US-based Rotorcraft Services Group (RSG).

The ASW suite developed and integrated by PTDI and RSG includes the L-3 Ocean Systems DS-100 HELRAS dipping sonar, a lightweight torpedo launch system (allowing for release of either Mk 46 or A244/S weapons), and a lightweight operator console. According to RSG, the modular systems design will allow the helicopter to be quickly reconfigured for noncombat roles, including maritime surveillance, search and rescue, medical evacuation, utility and external cargo lift operations.

When they become fully operational, the AS565s will be operated by 100 Skuadron Udara, based in Surabaya.

(990 words)