Indonesia continues to expand its amphibious capability with the awarding of an IDR360 billion ($25.5 million) contract to local shipbuilder PT Bandar Abadi for production of two additional landing ship tanks (LSTs). The contract was inked on April 12, allowing for manufacture of what will become the eighth and ninth ships of the Teluk Bintuni class serving with the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL).
The primary mission of the new amphibious LSTs will be ferrying the Indonesian Armed Forces armored vehicles. The ships can carry and launch up to 15 BMP-3F infantry fighting vehicles via a roll-on/roll-off ramp at the bow, plus operate a 10-ton helicopter from the flight deck. They have a standard range of 7,200 nautical miles at 12 knots and a top speed of 16 knots.
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago nation, consisting of some 17,500 islands, a maritime domain of just under 6 million square kilometers, and a coastline of 81,000 kilometers. In light of this (and China’s maritime buildup, coinciding with increasing tensions in waters surrounding Indonesia), the modernization of the Indonesian Navy is an overriding concern of the Ministry of Defense.
The largest regional threat to Indonesia would appear to come from the rise of a territorially ambitious China and its naval buildup and use of fishing vessels and maritime law enforcement forces as additional elements in its toolkit. China’s claim to the South China Sea runs up against Indonesia’s Natuna Islands and thus elicits disagreements over fishing rights.
Hence Indonesia is focusing on building up a nearly 300-ship Navy replete with at least 12 submarines.