10 January 2015
BANGKOK — Indonesia’s hunt for the wreckage of a downed AirAsia jet is exposing the constraints on its navy as President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo seeks to transform his nation into a major maritime power.
Mr Widodo, the former Jakarta Governor who took office in October, has laid out an ambitious vision that spans the development of the fishing industry, improved port infrastructure, stronger sea defence and better diplomacy as the government deals with illegal fishing, territorial disputes and piracy.
Key to that plan is modernising and expanding a navy that patrols the waters of the world’s biggest archipelago, a string of more than 17,000 islands that would stretch almost from New York to London. Indonesia has long focused the bulk of its defence spending on ground forces as it dealt with internal security threats, leaving its navy short of ships, manpower and technology.
…While such a search would test the capabilities of even larger navies, it has exposed some of Indonesia’s weaknesses, such as problems with night-time and all-weather searches and a lack of equipment to conduct sophisticated aerial maritime surveillance, said Mr Collin Koh, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore who studies the modernisation of South-east Asia’s navies.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 03/12/2015