Indonesia seeks Indian defense technology, pushes for joint production amid Chinese belligerence

Indonesia has sought defense technology from India to bolster its security apparatus amid Chinese expansionist trends in the region. The largest nation in Southeast Asia is exploring joint defense production with India, ET has learned, and is considering the possibility of joint production of military vehicles and water cannons.

The proposed initiatives are planned on Indonesian territory as this would allow it to acquire skills in defense technology, ET learned. Expanding the defense partnership and joint defense production were key items on the agenda when India’s Deputy National Security Advisor Pankaj Saran traveled to Jakarta last week to meet Indonesian Defense Minister Prabawo Subianto and key presidential advisers, including Presidential Chief of Staff H Moeldoko.

The fight against terrorism and de-radicalization also featured in the Saran meetings. Subianto had traveled to the Indian Embassy in Jakarta to sign the condolence book following the death of General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash last week.

During his meeting with Saran on December 8, Moeldoko reportedly said that Indonesia and India have several common interests, especially in the defense sector.

“We have the same interests in the face of radicalism and extremism. Therefore, we can develop cooperation to build stronger relations in the defense sector,” Moeldoko reportedly said, according to people familiar with the matter.

Jakarta and New Delhi should focus on technology transfer and the development of local manufacturing industries in the defense sector. While Indonesia is not a claimant in the South China Sea region, Jakarta remains wary of Beijing’s growing ambitions in the region.

India and Indonesia have also decided to expand their maritime cooperation and partnership in the Indian Ocean region. Indian companies are considering building ports in Indonesia, ET has learned.

In 2018, Indonesia and India hosted the first Indonesia-India Security Dialogue (IISD-1) in New Delhi. National security adviser Ajit Kumar Doval hopes the second security dialogue can take place in the near future, ET learned. Last year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Subianto traveled to India to meet with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.

The issue of a possible export of BrahMos cruise missiles to Indonesia and ways to further deepen maritime security cooperation featured prominently in the talks. The two countries also signed a new defense cooperation agreement in 2018 during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Indonesia.

In May 2018, India and Indonesia established a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”. Its main lessons were the adoption of the “Shared Vision on Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific” which aimed at greater maritime cooperation.

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