August 4, 2017

Indonesia's Submarine Buying Strategy Makes Little Sense

Ever since Indonesia decided to buy 3 Improved Chang Bogo Type 209 variants from South Korea’s DSME (on December 20, 2011) decisions by many Indonesians involved have been a puzzle. The Indonesians sensibly decided to have 2 of the Type 209/1400 variants built in South Korea. The first submarine KRI Nagapasa was commissioned on August 2, 2017. The next 209, KRI Ardadedali, is expected to be commissioned in 2018.

However, in February 2014, the Indonesia Parliament made the curious decision to have the third submarine, KRI Alugoro, assembled from South Korean parts, at the PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia. By itself this would add up to a production run of only 1 submarine in Indonesia. A delay may also ensue as often it takes 5 years to build/assemble a submarine in a foreign customer's shipyard. So KRI Alugoro may only be launched in 2020 or later. A production run of 4 would be more logical.

So the deal with South Korea for 3 Type 209 variants has been made. But factions within the Indonesian bureaucracy, Navy and politicians have been talking about prospects for buying an unsettled number of:
-  Russian Kilo, Amur or Kalina submarines
-  likely South Korean designed minisubs, and
-  talking to some extent to France. 

In February 2014 the Jakarta Post reported:

Despite the order of three submarines from Korea, KKIP implementation team head, Adm. (ret) Sumardjono said that Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro had also set a policy to procure Kilo-class submarines from Russia in motion. This is a stop-gap measure as we need 12 submarines to safeguard our waters,' he said.'”

The prospect of Indonesia fielding 2 or even 3 distinctly different classes of submarine may defy military efficiency or official purchasing sense. Although it may make sense to India, which has 3 foreign designed classes of SSKs built/building and may eventually buy a fourth SSK type, under Project-75i
There may be what can be delicately described as a "financial commissions for many" reason for buyers to make extra deals or have extra talks with several submarine suppliers.
Other interpretations are:
-  
perhaps Indonesia wishes to match the 12 submarines to be built by Indonesia’s southern
   
neighbour, Australia. But this still does not explain 2 or 3 types for Indonesia, or
-  p
erhaps Indonesia wants to spread its geo-political alliance net, via submarine purchases, as widely
   as possible. In that sense buying from Russia, France or, less likely, China, may make sense.  
The launch ceremony for KRI Nagapasa on March 24, 2016. It was attended by Indonesia's Minister of Defense (former General) Ryamizard Ryacudu and Indonesia's Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Ade Supandi (Photo of launch ceremony coutesy Indonesia's portal-komando website). On August 2, 2017 KRI Nagapasa was commissioned.


Pete

7 comments:

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,
why do you expect more from Indonesia than from Australia?

On the other side it makes perfectly sense to look at other options to get a good price. It's like in aerospace business where it is good to have a unified fleet but you need to look at other options to get a fair price.

Indonesia operates German Type 209 and has more Korean built Type 209 on order.

As long as there are no real fixed orders...

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Instead of seeking best price it might be more likely that key decision makers seek to be wined, dined and otherwise bribed by foreign ship, sub and aerospace suppliers.

Most major weapon systems are bought in small number inefficient penny-packets. Just look at the many models of Russian jetfighters. This result is achieved by making as many deals as possible.

Cheers

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Six watertight subdivisions structute is adopted for Kilo class, while single watertight subdivision structure is adopted for TYPE 209. Consequenlty minor water leak for Kilo class may become major water leak for TYPE 209. In the case of crash off such as USS Louisiana collision, TYPE 209 seems to be difficult to survive. Kilo class seems to survive.

Regards

Anonymous said...

Watertight subdivisions only help you up to a certain point in a submarine as watertight does not imply pressure tight. The Kilos have more redundancies in that regard though. The 209 follows a very different concept as a single hull sub with significantly smaller submerged displacement. Hard to compare them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

As pressure hull of some submarine is supported by many stiffeners and some stiffened bulkheads which cause an increase in weight, omitting stiffened bulkheads provides additional buoyancy. But, I am worried about reduction in strength of pressure hull and safety detgradation (easy to sink).

Regards

GhalibKabir said...

it is par for the course in Indonesia and frankly there is no 'strategy' out there for the armed forces.

On the other hand, with the Islamist problems set to worsen, I would say the TNI has much bigger internal problems to take care of....

Peter Coates said...

I agree GhalibKabir

The Indonesian military's job has mainly been internal security:

- from the War of Independence/"Revolution" ejecting the Dutch, in the 1940s, from what is now Indonesia

- eleminating PKI "Communists" which was also a massive anti-ethnic-Chinese pogrom

- trying to keep Christian Aceh, East Timor and other islands from seceding, and

- preventing specific Indonesian generals and colonels from using their commands to sieze political power by coup, especially in Java.

The internal security orientation also explains why Indonesia's externally orientated (eg. anti-Malaysia) forces (including servicable corvettes and jetfighters) are relatively few in number and low in combat power.

Cheers

Pete