On September 6, Indonesia and Turkey held their annual defense talks. Though the dialogue represented just one avenue through which both sides have been pursuing security cooperation, it nonetheless gave them an opportunity to evaluate where they are in this realm.
Indonesia-Turkey defense cooperation is already ongoing. Both sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defense industry cooperation when former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyno visited Turkey back in June 2010, and collaboration had begun in some areas, whether it be on specific equipment, such as radar systems, or more general exchanges of expertise between their militaries.
One concrete manifestation of the defense cooperation cited by both sides is the joint production of the KAPLAN medium-weight battle tank, which Turkish armored vehicle manufacturer FNSS and Indonesian defense company PT Pindad have been working on jointly producing since 2015. Both countries have said that the tank, which was displayed during the 13th International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF) in Istanbul back in May, could be exported to other nations, including those in the Middle East and Central Asia.
The two sides have also been looking to expand the scope of their defense cooperation as part of their broader ties under Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. During Jokowi’s state visit to Turkey in July en route to attending the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Hamburg, Germany, there was a memorandum of understanding inked between Indonesian state-owned aircraft manufacturer Dirgantara Indonesia and the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) as well as a pledge to increase cooperation in areas like drone and submarine production, apart from other collaboration on terrorism and broader intelligence-sharing.
On September 6, the two countries held the sixth iteration of their annual defense industry cooperation meeting in Jakarta. The meeting was chaired by Indonesia’s director general for defense potential Sutrimo Sumarlan and Turkey’s deputy defense minister Ismail Demir.
According to Sumarlan, during the meeting, both sides evaluated progress made since the last meeting, including on the tank, which is expected to be displayed at the Army Day military parade in Indonesia in October 2018. He also said that both sides were looking into more forms of defense cooperation and were drafting a bilateral defense cooperation agreement (DCA) to facilitate this process – a move that has long been discussed.
Sumarlan did not publicly offer much in the way of specifics about the DCA, which was no surprise. But he did say that both sides were considering several areas of industrial collaboration through government-to-government channels which had already been discussed before. This included design and technology cooperation for type-214 submarines, joint production of medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aircraft, and other areas such as aerospace and electronics.
As the year progresses and we see other such engagements, it will be worth looking at how these various areas of cooperation do (and do not) progress over time.