Asia Defense

Indonesia, Portugal Eye Defense Partnership

The two countries are looking at opportunities to work together more in the defense domain.

Indonesia, Portugal Eye Defense Partnership
Credit: Indonesia Defense Ministry

Last week, Indonesia’s defense ministry announced that Southeast Asia’s largest state was eyeing a defense partnership with Portugal.

Following a February 8 meeting between Portugal’s Ambassador to Indonesia Rui Fernando Sucena Do Carmo and Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, the Indonesian defense ministry said in a statement released in Bahasa Indonesia that Ryamizard had welcomed Portugal’s wish to establish bilateral cooperation in the defense sector.

The statement said that the collaboration would focus on areas such as communications and combat aircraft maintenance, which the two countries had already been discussing. Few specifics were offered regarding the exact shape of this cooperation and whether it would involve technology transfer. Ryamizard also said that broader defense sector cooperation could be initiated in areas like information-sharing and counterterrorism.

Unlike other European countries, the relationship between Portugal and Indonesia remains rather underdeveloped relatively speaking. Yet the talk of deeper defense ties now would seem to make sense for both sides. Portugal has been looking to strengthen its relationship with Indonesia, with the awareness that it lags behind some other European countries in this regard. Meanwhile, Indonesia under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has been searching for opportunities with other nations to boost Jakarta’s domestic defense industry and continuing to develop its military.

In that vein, Portugal had been highlighting potential opportunities for the two sides, including during its participation in the Indo Defense Expo & Forum 2016 defense industry exhibition. As Ryamizard pointed out, some of the areas Portugal has proposed would contribute to Indonesia’s goal of strengthening its domestic defense industry.

In terms of next steps, the statement said that the two sides would schedule a meeting of their defense officials to discuss further plans to operationalize a partnership between their defense sectors. As this process continues to unfold and discussions get more specific, it will be interesting to see the extent to which this new partnership is realized, and how exactly it will manifest.