Indonesia signs agreement for 8 Italian-made frigates – the Diplomat
Last week, Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri announced that it had reached an agreement with the Indonesian Defense Ministry to supply it with eight frigates, marking another milestone in the modernization of the country’s aging navy.
In one declaration Posted on its website on June 10, Fincantieri said Indonesia will purchase six new FREMM multipurpose frigates and two second-hand Maestrale-class frigates. These last two ships will be available after their withdrawal by the Italian Navy.
The purchase, the latest in a series of acquisitions by the Indonesian Navy, highlights the country’s growing concerns about its ability to defend its vast ocean areas with the Navy’s current fleet of aging vessels.
The Navy’s shortcomings were tragically demonstrated by the April 21 shipwreck of the Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala, with the loss of its 53 crew members. The submarine, which was built in 1977 in Germany, acquired by Indonesia in 1981 and refurbished by South Korea in 2012, was likely hit by a giant underwater wave while it was carrying out drills. live-fire torpedoes off Bali.
The poor condition of the Indonesian Navy has compromised its ability to meet the growing number of maritime challenges. Although Jakarta is not an official South China Sea claimant, some of its waters lie on the wrong side of Beijing’s extensive and legally dubious “nine-dash line” maritime claim, resulting in a series of recent dead ends.
In recent years, the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) have increased their presence on Natuna Besar, the largest of the region’s islands, and have organized military exercises in the surrounding waters. Indonesia also faces an increasing number of challenges resulting from illegal fishing operations carried out by vessels from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and other neighboring countries.
The Italian agreement follows Indonesia’s signing of an agreement with Japan allowing the transfer of Japanese military equipment and technology to the Indonesian armed forces. This was shortly followed by news that Indonesia was preparing to spend $ 3.6 billion on the purchase of eight new Japanese Mogami-class stealth frigates.
Following the loss of KRI Nanggala, the Indonesian Navy has also indicated that it is seeking to expand its fleet of submarines up to three times, from four to twelve current ships. Specifically, Indonesia is pursuing a joint production deal with South Korea, while other potential deals are on the horizon with France, Russia and Turkey. Japan is also studying the idea of selling submarines to the Indonesian Navy.
All of these acquisitions are part of a large planned increase in Indonesia’s defense spending. A recent leak government document outlined plans by Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto to fortify the army with spending of $ 125 billion over five years, approximately three times the funding allocated over the past five years. It remains to be seen whether this will happen, given the controversial that the plan evoked amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Indonesia’s military budget increased by 11 percent to about $ 9.2 billion.
Indonesia’s military modernization plans date back to 2007, and in 2010, the Indonesian Navy launched its Minimum essential force strategy with a view to modernizing and modernizing its fleet and equipment by 2024. Despite these efforts, Indonesian defense spending remains the second lowest in Southeast Asia relative to gross domestic product; The country spent only 0.7% of its GDP on its military in 2019, compared to 1% for Malaysia, 1.3% for Thailand and 3.2% for Singapore.
The Navy has also been hampered by an overwhelming focus on the country’s ground forces, a by-product of both long-standing joint rivalries and the TNI’s historic focus on suppressing regional rebellions in areas like Aceh. and East Timor. Nonetheless, the purchase of Fincantieri marks an important step for the largest archipelagic nation in the world to acquire a maritime security capability worthy of the name.