Prashanth Parameswaran, The Diplomat
25 September 2015
The Indonesian Navy revealed earlier this week that it plans to purchase two new submarines to augment its fleet.
Navy spokesman Comr. Muhammad Zainuddin told The Jakarta Post that it had opted to procure two Kilo-class submarines from Russia as part of the strategic planning for the next few years. The submarine procurement plan was also confirmed by Indonesian defense minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, who noted that it was consistent with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s plan to buy new weapons systems instead of second-hand items.
The choice of Russian submarines is far from surprising. The Russian government has repeatedly approached the Indonesian government to offer Kilo-class Type 636 submarines as part of a broader effort to broaden their defense relationship. In January, Russia’s ambassador to Indonesia MY Galuzin made a similar pitch when he met with Ryacudu.
Zainuddin’s comments come weeks after news that the Indonesian government under Jokowi would cut the country’s defense budget for next year amid economic woes despite earlier conditional pledges – including from Jokowi himself – to increase it (See: “Will Indonesia Double its Military Budget in 2016?”).
As I reported then, while some had worried about the implications for Indonesia’s ongoing military modernization, including Jokowi’s own “global maritime fulcrum” vision, defense officials and legislators had suggested that key purchases – including submarines – would not be impacted (See: “Why is Indonesia Set to Cut its Military Budget for 2016?”).