IMS to Propose Improvement of Indonesian Weapons Systems
Indonesian for Maritime Studies (IMS) urged President Joko Widodo not to halt the project of submarine building, seeing that the weapons system should be in parallel with strategic economic plan. Indonesian state owned enterprise, PT PAL has made six submarines, and proposed to Philippines and Saudi Arabia. “We should not be naïve, including TNI AL (Indonesian Navy) perform without any knowledge about economic plan and war tactics. I feel that I need to give some advices. There is an official statement of TNI AL in regard with submarine weapons system,” four-star admiral (ret.) Bernard Kent Sondakh said.
Sondakh who is also the founder of IMS reiterated that strategic economic plan has ever been applied when still serving as Indonesian Navy Chief (KSAL), namely April 2002 – February 2005. The program of submarine building has been started after considering the strategic economic plan carefully. The process of technology transfer was quite open at that time. TNI AL and PT PAL worked together with Korea. Therefore PT PAL took over the technology of submarine building gradually from Korea. “You can see, the initiative (of submarine building) together with PT PAL, we achieve good success. We made two units in 2007. Now, Philippines has just ordered two submarines from us. Saudi Arabia signed deal for buying six submarines. They bought not only for the good price, but also number one steel quality. But the components are not full from Korea and PT PAL. The technology of Torpedo is made in Sweden, Sonar (sound navigation and ranging) is from German.”
The purchase decision is not sourced fully from foreign loan. The government has to consider bilateral trade balance strategically. Therefore IMS needs to assure the government for not taking partial decision regarding the procurement of weapons systems. “The purchase decision of our weapons system especially submarine from Russia, we have to consider about bilateral trade balance. Is it surplus or deficit from Russia?. Russia did not buy anything from us. Even small commodity such as coffee has never been bought (by Russia). But if we compare with Korean investment in Indonesia, big difference. Korean investment is only a slight different from American investment. There are some group companies such as Corindo, Samsung, and so on. All of the countries in the world, the Commander-in-chief has never put aside the aspect of economy.”
Tactics should never be put aside while taking procurement of weapons system. Such as TNI AL which has been equipped by 10.000 tons, using nuclear energy and nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM. In the situation of war, submarine can submerge the enemy’s warship. But ballistic missile tactic can be defeated tactically by torpedo. “Military official should be knowledge-able with tactic, then he will be eligible to explain about weapons system. Ballistic missile, torpedo will have to submerge the warship which is broken into pieces. Ballistic missile will only burn the enemy’s warship till it sinks into the sea. Destruction power of weapons system should be learned. Like the history of Falklands war (1982), England shipwars sank after it had been burned. Argentine used missile balistiques. The ships in which the body had been made from aluminium, steel in such a situation of war at that time. We could see the type of its power for destruction.”
IMS scales three priorities to keep improving the country’s weapons system, namely technology transfer, price and politics. The government of Indonesia purchased three submarines from South Korea, with a careful consideration namely technology transfer. The purchase order which was made gradually till production, even export was not mission impossible. “The purchase of the fourth stage, we (TNI AL) and PT PAL will have acquired by 25 percent and 50 percent (of technology) respectively.”
The armed forces commander should also consider many aspects, including the country which sell the weapons. One of the consideration was the politics during cold war. At that time, former Soviet Union/USSR had become an ally which opposed to the United States of America. Indonesia has ever purchased 12 submarines from USSR. But the advantage and disadvantage had been determined the constellation of world politics.
When USSR collapsed in 1991 exactly, the submarines weapons lost direction. Spare parts services became big problems. “Since the constellation is a part of cold war between eastern and western bloc. Military is like a general. But now, the cold war is finished, and here comes globalization and free trade. Economic has become the general, no more military. Therefore we have to consider the impact of the decision for weapons system purchase. It gives impact to trade balance of the country. If we suffer deficit against the country which sell weapons system, we are foolish. We have to consider our bilateral diplomatic relationship, and also regional. Arms embargo has ever hit Indonesia, should be considered carefully.”
Such countries like South Korea should not be underestimated. The quality of the country’s weapons system especially submarine with its technology should be seen comprehensively. Firstly, the quality of its submarine has been recognized , especially its body. The quality of the steel guaranteed the quality of the submarine. Besides, Korean submarine has been built by imported components, such as German, England. The submarines were not made 100 percent from local components. “If we examine thoroughly the whole parts, some are made in German, France, England. Only its body is made from number one manufacturing company in Korea. Sonar is from German, missile ballistic is made from Italy.”
The strength of Indonesian military can be seen by deterrence value. The experience of Indonesia, especially the times of arms embargo by some countries, including the United States of America, the deterrence value became zero. This is the most precious lesson learned, including the decision made by the Government of Indonesia toward the purchase of submarines. During the times of former president, the late Soekarno, Indonesia had ever become one of the strongest state for maritime force. At that time, Indonesia had ever had submarine. But in 1965s, the impact of cold war between eastern and western bloc, Indonesia suffered from arms embargo by USSR. “Submarines ex USSR were abandoned. We had had twelve submarines, but 10 of them had been dismantled due to arms embargo. There were only two (submarines) left. The lessons learned, if we rely on the purchase of foreign weapons systems, our deterrence value will get weaker.”( Setiawan Liu / IM )