Jakarta – The weapon systems belonging to the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) is a cause for concern. Compared with the systems belonging to the armed forces in other South-East Asian countries the TNI’s is among the worst, only ahead of Cambodia and Laos.
During a working meeting with the People’s Representative Assembly Commission I, TNI chief General Endriartono Sutarto candidly revealed the poor state of the TNI’s weapon systems. Also present at the meeting was Army Chief of Staff General Ryamizard Ryacudu, Air-force Chief Marshal Chappy Hakim and Navy Chief Admiral Bernard Kent Sondakh.
“The [state of] our weaponry is obviously very disheartening as it is only better than Laos and Cambodia. This statement doesn’t need to be off the record”, said commission member Slamet Effendy Yusuf from the Golkar Party fraction. According to Yusuf, the state of the TNI’s weapon systems is at a minimum and must immediately be dealt with and supported financially. Commission I must continue to support budget increases for the TNI because without adequate weapon systems it will be impossible to overcome external threats.
In a written report presented by Sutarto he said that the weapon systems belonging to the TNI are still far from adequate. The national air defense system is still not fully operational in eastern Indonesia because the radar units are seriously limited and out-of-date. Fighter planes and short- and medium-range anti-aircraft missiles are inadequate for the territory which must be covered.
The navy explained Sutarto, currently has 117 ships of various types. If measured against the size of Indonesia’s territorial waters it should have a minimum of 762 ships. The air force meanwhile has seven fighter squadrons, five transport squadrons, one surveillance squadron, three helicopter squadrons, two training squadrons, 16 air-defense radar units and three wings of special air force troops which an average level of readiness of 60 per cent. If measured against the size of Indonesia’s air space it should have around 2000 aircraft of various types. The TNI is also still using outdated weapon systems including some from Russia purchased many years ago. “The Russians themselves were confused because they didn’t know where they were made on account of their age”, said Sutarto.
In response to the report, A.S. Hikam from the National Awakening Party fraction urged the TNI to work to seriously strengthen the public’s trust with regard to budget management transparency. According to Hikam the public’s mistrust has caused people to have a skewed view about whether or not the TNI really wants to improve the capability of its weapon systems.
Ade Daud from the Star Reform Party fraction asked the TNI to prepare a financial report. He also asked that the TNI explain the position of its financial backers who it is often said prop up the TNI’s financial needs. “Are the financial backers the ones who control the military or does the military control the financial backers”, he said loudly. In relation to the US arms embargo Daud also asked the TNI to turn towards Russia to purchase equipment. (sut)
[Translated by James Balowski.]