INS Sindhukesari, docked in Jakarta for the first time in February 2023 for operational turnaround

“We are aware that Indonesia is also keen to build its own defence industry. We are keen to share our experiences in this endeavour,” said Sandeep Chakravorty, Indian envoy in Indonesia addressing the first-ever “India-Indonesia defence industry exhibition-cum-seminar” organised in Jakarta as the two countries mark the 75th year of establishment of diplomatic ties.

This also comes as India looks to expand its defence exports with particular focus on Southeast Asia. The exhibition saw the participation of 36 Indian companies, 12 Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) and 24 private companies.

“The Indian defence industry is today thriving under the clarion call of ‘Make in India – Make for the World’ initiative. The performance and order books of Indian defence companies are at an all-time high. Indian defence companies have achieved record exports of $2.63 billion in the last financial year and India is poised to become one of the leading defence exporters by 2030,” Mr. Chakravorty said at the event on April 30.

My firm belief is that Indonesian defence establishment could benefit from the experience and successes of their maritime neighbour, he said, adding, “It is this experience that we want to share with you today and partner with you for long-term collaborations in defence sector.”

Shedding light on the evolution of Indian military modernisation, huge dependency on imported weapon systems and the constraints of acquisitions without a domestic manufacturing base, Mr. Chakravorty said, “This has created many challenges in maintaining equipment, life cycle support, upgrades and as just mentioned – the cost.”

Such a dispersed range and scale of military hardware required different training and maintenance protocols, different operating philosophies, non-availability of spares due to geo-political developments and in general - huge stress in keeping the military running, he stated noting the diverse origin of procurements. “There were also challenges posed by export controls and end-use requirements. On occasions equipment and spares when needed were not available.”

Noting that India has one of the largest ecosystem of start-ups with a growing number of them now venturing into the “deep tech” and defence sectors, the envoy highlighted the Defence Ministry’s Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative, an effort to nurture start-ups in defence.

Recently, Philippines took delivery of the first batch of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles becoming the first export customer for the missile system while Indonesia and Thailand have also expressed interest and held discussions over it. Indonesia has also expressed interest in the Light Combat Aircraft TEJAS among others.

During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Jakarta in May 2018, the two countries had elevated their ties to “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”. Both countries also agreed on the “shared vision of India-Indonesia maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific”. “Thus they share a similar vision for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region which respects ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] centrality. A collaborative approach to defence development is poised to strengthen their collective maritime security posture,” a statement issued by the Indian Embassy said.

In May, Indian and Indonesian navies are scheduled to conduct the 42nd India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT). Military exercise “Garuda Shakti” and Navy exercise “Samudra Shakti” are planned to take place towards the end of 2024, the statement noted.

As part of expanding military-to-military engagements, an Indian Navy Kilo-class conventional submarine, INS Sindhukesari, docked in Jakarta for the first time in February 2023 for operational turnaround.