Indonesia has sought defence technology from India to bolster its security apparatus amid Chinese expansionist tendencies in the region. Southeast Asia’s biggest nation is exploring joint defence production with India, ET has learnt, and is considering the possibility of jointly producing military vehicles and water cannons.
The proposed initiatives are being planned on Indonesian territory as that would enable it to acquire skills in defence technology, ET has further learnt. Expanding the defence partnership and joint defence production were key items on the agenda when India’s deputy national security adviser Pankaj Saran travelled to Jakarta last week to meet Indonesian defence minister Prabawo Subianto and key presidential aides, including presidential chief of staff H Moeldoko.
Counter terrorism and deradicalisation also figured in Saran’s meetings. Subianto had visited the Indian Embassy in Jakarta to sign the condolence book following the death of General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash last week.
In his meeting with Saran on December 8, Moeldoko is understood to have said that Indonesia and India have several common interests including in the defence sector.
“We have the same interests in dealing with radicalism and extremism. Therefore, we can develop cooperation to build stronger relations in the defence sector,” Moeldoko is understood to have said, according to people familiar with the matter.
Jakarta and New Delhi are expected to focus on technology transfer and development of local manufacturing industries in the defence 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 firms are planning to build ports in Indonesia, ET has learnt.
In 2018, Indonesia and India held the First Indonesia-India Security Dialogue (IISD-1) in New Delhi. National security adviser Ajit Kumar Doval is hoping that the second security dialogue can be held in near future, ET has learnt. Last year, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, Subianto visited India to meet defence minister Rajnath Singh.
The issue of possible export of BrahMos cruise missiles to Indonesia and ways to further deepen maritime security cooperation had figured prominently in the talks. The two countries also inked a new defence cooperation agreement in 2018 during PM Modi’s visit to Indonesia.
In May 2018, India and Indonesia established a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’. Its key takeaways were the adoption of the “Shared Vision on Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific” which aimed at greater maritime cooperation.