India And Indonesia Explore Opportunities For Defense Cooperation – OpEd


Indonesia and India are close friends and maritime neighbours as well as comprehensive strategic partners. Both countries, this year, are celebrating the 75 years of establishing diplomatic relations. In an effort to boost bilateral defense cooperation, India has organized the inaugural “India-Indonesia Defense Industry Exhibition-cum-Seminar” on April 30, 2024 at the Sultan Hotel in Jakarta.

The Embassy of India in Indonesia, representatives from the Ministry of Defense of Indonesia and Indian Defense Ministry took part in the seminar.

Top Indian defense companies – 12 Defense Public Sector Undertakings and 24 private companies – exhibited their products at the exhibition. 

The event showcased Indian defense prowess, fostering comprehensive strategic partnership and aiming for regional stability in the Indo-Pacific. 

Top Indian companies like BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd., Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Electronics, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), Yantra India Ltd., Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd., Zen Technologies; MKU Pvt Ltd, Godrej Precision Engineering, Munitions India Ltd., Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) were present at the exhibition.

There were several top Indonesian state-owned defense industries and private companies, including PT Pindad and PT Infoglobal Teknologi Semesta at the exhibition.

Top leadership of Indonesian Ministry of Defense, Military, Coast Guard and Defense Companies attended in the Exhibition-cum-Seminar to seek and nurture partnerships between Indian and Indonesian Defense Industry ecosystem for a long-term cooperation in Defense Research and Development, innovation and manufacturing.

Indian Ambassador to Indonesia Sandeep Chakravorty said in his opening address that India’s pivotal role in fortifying national security and self-reliance, highlighting initiatives such as Innovations for Defense Excellence (iDEX).

“This initiative has established a platform for enabling co-creation and co-development by encouraging participation from innovators, startups and MSMEs. The iDEX startups bolstered by the assurance of procurement are today providing products and solutions at a fraction of cost and time. The products being developed by the iDEX winners are as good and, in some cases, even better than the best in the category,” Ambassador Sandeep said.

Sandeep stated that the inclusion of start-ups and young minds has also galvanized the R&D culture in the Indian Defense Industry, with increased spending on R&D, resulting in filing of thousands of patents by the defense enterprises in the last few years.

India is currently focusing on strengthening its industrial capabilities and domestic defense needs despite various challenges. One of the efforts being made is to encourage private companies to collaborate with the world’s leading industries and build a defense industrial ecosystem.

“We want to share our experience with Indonesia and collaborate for the long term, such as for airplanes, submarines, satellites, and cyber technology,” Sandeep said.

Indonesian Director-General of Defense Potential of the Defense Ministry Maj. Gen. Piek Budyakto stated that they are currently pushing for domestic defense industries, both state-owned and private, to establish strategic partnerships with foreign companies. Therefore, when the government purchases main weapons systems from foreign defense equipment companies, Indonesia can obtain optimal benefits.

Indonesian defense industry can now fulfill up to 40 percent of local content.

According to Piek, the fulfillment of local content is achieved gradually. On one hand, the increase in local content requires the support of the military to prioritize domestic products in meeting its needs. On the other hand, it becomes an opportunity for the domestic defense industry to fulfill those needs.

To achieve independence in the defense industry, we must be able to absorb technology that exists abroad.

Regarding the event, according to Piek, India is considered to be one of the countries with rapidly growing defense industries. The defense industry in Indonesia is expected to take advantage of the opportunity to collaborate.

“The policy in imports should benefit us. If we buy goods from foreign countries, we should be able to obtain technology transfer and receive training,” said Piek.

In his address, T Natarajan, Indian Additional Director General (Defence Production), shed light on the achievements of the Indian defence sector in recent years. He also talked about the defence exports value rising from US$560 million in 2017 to achieving record exports of $2.63 billion in 2023. And highlighted that India is set to become one of the leading defence exporters by 2030. 

According to Natarajan, the defense industry in India is working to develop its products to meet global standards. Currently, the defense industry in India has formed an ecosystem, ranging from small and medium industries that support larger military industries.

Meanwhile, the defense industry in India is open to foreign investment. “We have the same challenges and opportunities,” Natarajan said.

According to the SIPRI, India was the fourth largest military spender globally in 2023. At $83.6 billion in 2023, India’s military expenditure was 4.2 percent higher than $81.4 billion in 2022 or a substantial 47 percent surge since 2013. It clearly indicates India’s long-term commitment to boost its defense capabilities and maintaining regional stability. 

Recently, India sold the Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles to the Philippines. These missiles can be launched from multiple platforms based on land, sea, sub-sea and air. India has also offered to Vietnam and Malaysia. Both countries are still considering the offer.

India has also offered to sell Brahmos to Indonesia.

“Yes, we have offered Brahmos to Indonesia. Indonesia has not yet taken any decision on Brahmos. It will take some time to respond,”a representative of the BrahMos told this writer.

Ambassador Sandeep said that India wants defense partnership and long-term cooperation with Indonesia.

Veeramalla Anjaiah

Veeramalla Anjaiah is a Jakarta-based senior journalist and the author of the book “Azerbaijan Seen from Indonesia

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