October 16, 2015

Indonesia-Russian talks, Amur submarines, fighters & reactors

KRI Nanggala (402) is the second of Indonesia's current Cakra class submarines. 

Just about the boppyist Submarine Youtube Submarine Matters has ever run (this just happens to be the Bananarama version and aren't they nice :)  The Youtube shows the many phases of Improved Chang Bogo construction in South Korea. Two of three Improved Chang Bogo (Type 209s) for Indonesia are being built in South Korea. The third Chang Bogo may be built at PT PAL's shipyard at Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia. Notable parts of the Youtube include at: 1 minute - UUVs, including mine detection, 1min 20 secs - installing lead-acid batteries, 2m 30s - installing a Permasyn Motor, 4m 15s - some automatic welding equipment then inspecting weld work, 5m 15s - Indonesia's KRI Cakra (401), 6m 20s - installing diesel engines

An Improved Kilo (Project 636) at top of diagram. Then two Amurs - the 1650 ton (surfaced) 1650 then the smaller 950 (theoretically squeezing in 10 VLS).

Since 2007, if not earlier, the Indonesian Navy has considered buying between two and ten Russian Kilo submarines. Sometimes new Kilos are mentioned and sometimes used. However many times the Indonesian Navy wants Russian submarines the broader Indonesian Government (in which the Army is influential) presumably says no. It could also be that Western countries, including the US, dissuade Indonesia from getting too close to the Russians via submarine purchases. Submarines are high price items that would require substantial numbers of Russian naval and technical advisers in Indonesia.

Pressure to acquire more submarines may have been satisfied for the next few years by Indonesia's   order of three Improved Chang Bogo (Type 209s) from South Korea, with deliveries before 2020.

As well as the Chang Bogo buy part of the reason for not buying Kilos has been inadequate aid or lack of easy credit terms from the Russian Government. Low oil prices (Russia's main trade revenue earner) has often made it difficult for Russia and Indonesia to conclude a deal.

However the increasingly militant foreign/defence policies of President Putin may possibly override such financial concerns. Russia may even offer as yet unbuilt and unsold Amur submarines instead of the 30 year old Kilo designs. Indonesia might take the risk of being the first customer for Amurs. Also Amurs may suffer from Russia not yet producing a mature AIP system - a system Indonesia might prefer in expensive new submarines.  

Russia has supplied advanced Sukhoi fighter-bombers to Indonesia since 2003 but only in small numbers.

Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH) October 15, 2015 reported increasing negotiations between Indonesia and Russia in mid October 2015 http://asia.rbth.com/politics/2015/10/15/3_key_areas_in_russia-indonesia_ties_50049.html including:


In September 2015, the Indonesian government said it would buy a squadron of Sukhoi Su-35 fighters to replace its outdated US made F-5 Tigers. Jakarta also plans to buy 5 Russian submarines.

Initially Indonesia looked at buying Kilo class diesel electric submarines, but later chose the more advanced Amur class submarine, which is the export version of the Lada class. 
Russia is ready to loan Indonesia $3 billion for these purchases.

According to industry analysts, Indonesia may also be looking to buy medium-range anti-aircraft [surface to air (SAM)] missiles. The country already has a number of Sukhoi fighter jets [Su-27s and Su-30s], Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters, BMP-3 amphibious infantry fighting vehicles, one BTR-80 wheeled amphibious armored personnel carrier and Kalashnikov AK-101 and AK-102 rifles.

Nuclear energy

In June 2015, the countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the construction of large nuclear reactors and floating nuclear power stations.

In an interview with RBTH Indonesia, [Indonesia's] ambassador to Russia, Djauhari Oratmangun, said nuclear power plants could help meet Indonesia’s growing demand for electricity...."


Anonymous, over the last two days, has made some very interesting comments on these Indonesia-Russia negotiations:

"Indonesia's extravagant wish to buy 10 Russian Kilos was, as far as I can tell, driven by its Defence Minister [General (Ret.) Ryamizard Ryacudu] who seems to be a pretty hardcore Russophile. Cooler-headed Indonesian observers I talked with says that Indonesia may buy two Improved Kilo, but there is nothing concrete about that and it might be zero given the current Indonesian economic weakness.

The $3 billion in the RBTH article matches what Indonesian sources said, so that part seems correct.

Indonesian military officials and politicians, egged by Russia, have often stated that they are going to buy this or that from Russia without consideration on what they're going to use it for or how they are going to pay for it. There is a small but vocal Russophile faction, but most of the time the sane majority prevails and those statements were quietly ignored. However, once in a while they do throw a bone at the Russophiles to placate and retain their political support.

I rate the Su-35 procurement as likely, and the 5 Amur submarine procurement as unlikely. A half-half compromise of 8 Su-35 and 2 Amur is also possible. Militarily that is nuts, but hey, thats politics. Getting both is financially impossible and irresponsible. Even Russian credit doesn't stretch that far.

Russia also makes lots of noise about selling nuclear power plants to Indonesia. This is actually pretty plausible. Despite the Ring of Fire [earthquake-volcano zone] location, the physics of plate tectonics actually means that there are several geologically stable spots in Indonesia. Some of these spots are sufficiently inland or sheltered to be safe from tsunamis. 

Whether Indonesia will build utility scale nuclear power plants and who gets the contract remains to be seen though. I am quite certain that Indonesia will build them eventually though. Indonesia will run out of natural gas within 20 years and of coal within 50 years and despite all the talk about renewables, the actual growth rate of renewable energy use in Indonesia is not enough.

However, in the near term, the only confirmed plan to build a nuclear reactor in Indonesia is the 30 MW experimental reactor in Serpong to replace the 30 year old experimental reactor of similar rating (used to make medical isotopes and breeding new rice variants, among other things, but not actually connected to the power grid) that is reaching its end of service life. Russia is likely to get this project, but this is still far far away from an actual nuclear power plant. 

Russian media has this habit of talking big, but the actual realization is often much smaller and more uncertain than they make it to be."



Nicky said...

HI Pete,
I think for Indonesia, they should make a deal for the Amur or Kilo. Heck even Thailand should make deal for the Kilo's as well.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

If Indonesia was smart it would buy the TKMS Type 210mod with AIP. The 210 has much commonality with the Chang Bogo. Both designed by TKMS, many similar spare parts and engineering solutions, just small efficient crews needed in the 210. AIP (not yet developed by Russia) would give the 210 superiority over Malaysia's Scorpenes.

I suspect Indonesia rates soft loans from Russia more highly. India (that bought 10 Kilos) has found that Russian after sale service and high maintenance costs are less attractive.



Nicky said...

HI Pete,
I am wondering why didn't they buy up all the Type 206's or even build more Type 209's. It would make sense if they brought or built more Type 209's.

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

the second video is very. AT 3:00 the old VW Golf MK I in front of a German type submarine looks cute. The following ceremony looks like taken place at HDW Kiel. The submarine hoist has an unique look. The South Korean hoist at 5:18 looks quite different.

The electric motor at 6:07 looks rather large. I guess this is an old one with transmission box. The new permasync motors a rather short.


C.C.: Type 210mod would also be a good solution for Australia.

Anonymous said...

Nuclear reactor in a zone prone with major tsunamis and Richter 8-9 eartquakes is a disaster waiting to happen. This is deadly mix not just for Indonesia but for the whole SEA region if another Fukushima is going to occur. After that no one will want to eat any fish in the SCS.
One may be able to design earthquake resistant structure up Richter 7, but above that all bets are off, especially if the tremors last long enough to result into soil liquefaction.
As to the structural integrity of any man made barriers against a 30+ meter tsunami as seen in the 2004 catastrophe, the answer is well known.
Have we not learned from our past mistakes, when there are so many PhDs in the government.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky on Indonesia [Oct 20, 2015 2:46AM]

Re "why didn't they buy up all the Type 206's or even build more Type 209's."

Main reasons for 209s over 206s includes:

- the old age of the 206s,
- cost-need to tropicalise them from a cold Baltic environment to hot Indonesian air, hot and saltier water
- As an oil producing, still medium size economy, country Indonesia could/can afford larger 209s.
- Indonesia needs subs with sufficient range to move from Java to/from northern Borneo oil area and allow with 2-3 weeks operational time. Other extremities are Irian Jaya and Northern Sumatra.
- a 209's warload of 14 shots instead of the 206's 8 shots also helps.

Yes it would indeed make sense for Indonesia to build additional Chang Bogo 209s in its planned Surabaya production line rather than buying totally different Kilos or Amurs. If AIP (or LIBs) can be integrated into Chang Bogos even better.



Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

South Korea with a Chang Bogo may well have done a liaison visit to Kiel. Seems there are several periods and countries in the Youtube. Yes the electric motor may be pre-Permasyn.

Once Australian Government realises the Future Subs may work out to be $3.5 Billion (+ AWDs + Future Frigates + OPVs) the Type 210mods may looks increasingly reasonable.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous on Indonesian nuclear [Oct 20 2015 11:31AM]

Yes nuclear reactors have had major accidents in countries with excellent safety records (Fukushima, Japan and Three Mile Island, US) so in countries less so - there are worries. Indonesia's inability to stop the "mud volcano" must be remembered.

A floating Russian reactor - loved by pirates, environmental hijackers, terrorists and tsunamis...

Whether the Indonesian economy would be geared to a 2 decade long nuclear construction project before it yields "nuclear" electricity is another issue.

Naturally an increase in dual-use Indonesian nuclear knowledge that comes with a nuclear energy program is also a worry. Countries like Australia, Singapore and Malaysia would be encouraged to start their own nuclear energy reactor programs.

Australia would also be encouraged to store nuclear waste on a permanent basis including the HEU sitting in cooling pools at Lucas Heights.

North to south prevailing winds from Java spell regional crisis scenarios.

And as you say, Java being in one of the most earthquake-volcanic regions of the world should mean Javanese citizens have much to worry about. Like the 2004 tsunami 1 in 100 or 1000 year events happen.

Even many PhDs turn out to be nuclear industry enthusiasts looking for programs and career jobs rather than counselling caution.