South Asia and Beyond

‘Indonesian Navy’s Capability Is Restrained By Limited Budgets’

The loss of the Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala with all hands in the Bali Sea last week, brings back uncomfortable memories in India. In August 2013, the Kilo class submarine Sindhurakshak sank in Mumbai Harbour after a blast on board that killed 18 crew members.

In this conversation on The Gist, Anit Mukherjee of the Rajarathnam School of International Studies in Singapore, and James Goldrick, professor in naval and maritime strategy and policy at the Australian National University in Canberra, look at the larger issues behind the loss of the KRI Nanggala.

Indonesia’s navy is in the process of modernisation and expansion despite limited budgets. Driven by China’s persistent muscle flexing in the South China Sea and increasingly in Indonesia’s Natuna Sea, where the Chinese are making new claims, Jakarta’s maritime military build-up has preferred so far to avoid naming China as the source of its expansion. But it may not be long before Indonesia will be faced with the kind of intimidation and aggression that the Philippines has been subjected to.

At the same time Jakarta has been wary of alliances, seeking to upgrade its maritime capabilities through bilateral agreements, such as with the Australian and Indian navies. Indonesia has so far been cool to the Quad but given the growing threat perceptions about China, it may not be long before it seeks closer partnerships with other navies.

For more watch The Gist at 7pm on Stratnews Global.

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