UK, Indonesia to strengthen defense ties

The UK and Indonesia agreed on Wednesday (16/01) to strengthen defense cooperation in various fields from training and education to weapons procurement and civil-military cooperation (CIMIC).

The UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond and Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro

The UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond and Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro

The various fields of cooperation were agreed upon during a bilateral meeting between the UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond and his Indonesian counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro.

Purnomo said the meeting was a follow up to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s visit to London in 2012.

“Earlier in 2006, we signed up to a partnership forum during [former] prime minister Tony Blair’s visit to Jakarta. The forum included enhancing defense cooperation,” he added.

Meanwhile, Hammond said that Wednesday’s meeting was “about building on that MoU and turning it into reality or practical cooperation”.

“For us, defense collaboration with Indonesia is a very logical, strategic step,” he added.

According to Purnomo, the cooperation will include training and human resources development, such as cooperation between the Indonesian Defense University (IDU) and Cranfield University as well as between the National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas) and its British counterpart.

“In procurement, we have a number of British-made weapon systems and we need their support, including shared experiences in procurement and life cycle systems, as well as weapons maintenance,” he said.

Both countries also agreed to share experiences in armed forces management, especially regarding reserve force and welfare systems.

“The UK has a reserve model while we don’t. The British delegation shared its experiences, such as in Afghanistan, that in addition to deploying regular soldiers, they also deploy a reserve force,” Purnomo said.

Hammond said the UK was a trading country and that most trading was done via sea routes, making it imperative to secure these trading routes.

Another field of cooperation is in maritime security, as both countries are greatly concerned with securing major trading routes and sea lines of communication (SLOC).

“We also shared experiences on CIMIC, such as in disaster relief,” Purnomo said.

When asked about the procurement of British-made weapon systems, Purnomo referred the question to the Defense Facilities Agency head Maj. Gen. Ediwan Prabowo.

Ediwan said that the ministry had signed contracts to procure Starstreak short range air defense missile as well as spare parts for Hawk 109/209 trainer and ground attack aircraft and for Scorpion light tanks.

Indonesian military attache in London, Col. Jonni Mahroza, told The Jakarta Post that the Starstreak contract covered one missile battery that consisted of nine launchers. Ideally, an air defense battalion has three missile batteries.

After the meeting, Hammond delivered a general lecture for IDU students followed by a question and answer session.

Answering a question, Hammond said that British defense industries were ready to cooperate with Indonesian firms on initiatives such as the Indonesian-Korea KFX jet fighter program.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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