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Monday, December 7, 2009

Still a long wait until Navy can operate more submarines

KRI Cakra-401 Indonesian Submarine

Because of limited government budget allocations, the Indonesian Navy will have to wait for up to four years before procuring two additional submarines to strengthen the current fleet of two submarines.
"This isn't our call because we have to coordinate with the Indonesian Military *TNI*, the Defense Ministry and the government," Navy Chief of Staff Vice Adm. Agus Suhartono was quoted as saying by Antara news agency in Surabaya on Saturday.
"We have proposed the plan for quite some time now and the budget is still being studied. Hopefully, the two submarines can be procured by 2014," he said.
Agus was speaking at the sidelines of a ceremony to commemorate Fleet Day at the Navy's Eastern Fleet Command headquarters in Surabaya.
Agus said during the selection and assessment process, the Navy had singled out Italy, the Netherlands and Russia as potential suppliers of the two submarines.
"We will choose a country that can provide us with a product at a competitive price and offers better transfer of technology options," he said.
"The tender process will be open using a credit export financing scheme."
Each submarine is estimated to cost around Rp 3.5 trillion (US$371.85 million).
Agus added the two additional submarines will increase the Navy fleet's capabilities in securing Indonesian maritime territories.
Currently Indonesia operates the German-made U-209 class KRI Cakra and the KRI Nanggala submarines that were commissioned in 1981.
Indonesia first started using submarines in 1959 when two Russian-made Whiskey class submarines moored at the Tanjung Perak harbor in Surabaya.
Indonesia operated 12 Whiskey class submarines.
Before being replaced this year, former defense minister Juwono Sudarsono had narrowed the list of possible suppliers to South Korea and Russia.
Commenting on this, Navy chief spokesman Commodore Iskandar Sitompul said there might have been new assessments since "the Navy Chief of Staff mentioned *different potential suppliers*".
Iskandar said with such a challenging geography, Indonesia needed submarines to safeguard its maritime territories.
"Our closest neighbors also operate submarines," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday, referring to Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.
"We need submarines to maintain a regional balance of power to secure peace."
Iskandar insisted the government was still prioritizing sectors such as education and health.
Two other countries in Southeast Asia also operate submarines.
Singapore currently has four Challenger class submarines, formerly the Swedish-made Sjoormen class. One submarine was procured in 1995 while the rest were acquired in 1997. These submarines were originally built for the Swedish Navy in the late 1960s.
Singapore added two Archer class (formerly known as Vastergotland class) submarines from Sweden in 2005. The submarines were built in the 1980s and were placed in reserve by the Swedish Navy.
The first submarine, RSS Archer, was launched on June 16 for sea trials and expected to return to Singapore in 2010.
Recently, Malaysia has just received its first of two French-made Scorpene class submarines.
Ordered in 2006, the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman was launched on Oct. 24, 2007 and arrived on Sept. 3 this year.
Meanwhile, the Royal Australian Navy has six Collins class submarines and plans to acquire 12 new submarines by 2025. (Orignal News)