Asia Defense

Indonesia, South Korea Close to Signing Attack Submarine Deal

Indonesian is close to signing a contract for three more Type 209/1400 diesel-electric attack submarines.

Franz-Stefan Gady
Indonesia, South Korea Close to Signing Attack Submarine Deal
Credit: Indonesian Navy

Indonesia and South Korea are close to signing a follow-up order for three Type 209/1400 Chang Bogo-class diesel-electric attack submarines (SSK), for the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut), according to media reports.

A final agreement for the three boats, to be built by South Korean defense contractor Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) with cooperation from Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL, is expected to be signed in the coming months. According to IHS Jane’s, the contract is estimated to be worth around $1.2 billion. Indonesia is reportedly still considering other options.

“Industry sources, who have been updating Jane’s on the progress of these negotiations since early January 2019, said that if all goes well a formal contract for the boats may even materialize by the end of February or early March,” IHS Jane’s writes on February 14. “However, there are several decisions yet to be made, and these mainly pertain to workshare arrangements that can be undertaken for each vessel, the sources confirmed.”

The Type 209/1400 Chang Bogo-class SSK is a license-built variant of the German Type 209 submarine produced by DSME. The 1,400-ton SSK class has an operational range of around 11,000 nautical miles and has an endurance of about 50 days. The sub is a multipurpose platform capable of conducting anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and special forces missions. The SSK can be armed with heavyweight torpedoes,  anti-ship missiles, and mines.

Indonesia and South Korea concluded a $1.1 billion contract for three Type 209/1400 Chang Bogo-class (Nagapasa-class) SSKs in December 2011 as part of the Indonesian Ministry of Defense’s 2024 Defense Strategic Plan, which calls for the procurement of at least 10 new submarines for the Indonesian Navy. The new SSK class is expected to serve in Indonesia’s Navy for at least 30 years.

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The first-of-class SSK, KRI Nagapasa, was commissioned in August 2017 in South Korea and is now homeported at the Palu Naval Base in the Watusampu province of Central Sulawesi. The second SSK of the class has also already been delivered to the Navy, while the third is still under construction at a PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, located on the northeastern coast of Java island, under a PT PAL-DSME technology transfer agreement.

As my colleague Prashanth Parameswaran pointed out, even with the three additional SSKs the Indonesian Navy would still be under-equipped to fulfill its mission and police Indonesian territorial waters. According to Indonesian defense officials, the Navy needs at least 12 modern boats to do so. Notably, the last time the Indonesian Navy received new submarines was in the 1980s with the delivery of three German Type 209/1300 (Cakra–class) diesel-electric attack submarines.