Indonesia explores possibility of obtaining US aid to finance base
In South China SeaThe Wulung UAV, shown here at the Indodefence 2014 exhibition in Jakarta, is likely to be one of the UAV platforms that Indonesia plans to deploy on its facilities on Pulau Natuna Besar. (IHS/Patrick Allen)☆
A delegation of five senior Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) officers are currently in the United States to explore the possibility of tapping into Washington's foreign military financing (FMF) programme to fund upgrades of a naval base in the South China Sea, sources within the service told IHS Jane's on 20 September.
The delegation of flag officers has been invited under Washington's Distinguished Visitor Orientation Tour (DVOT) and will also make visits in several cities to study the US Navy's installations and training facilities including Quantico in Virginia, and San Diego in California. The visits are taking place over two weeks till end-September 2016.
Jakarta is currently in the process of upgrading the TNI-AL's facilities at Ranai on Pulau Natuna Besar to support a larger deployment of ships in the South China Sea region.
A transcript of a meeting between Indonesian National Armed Forces commander, General Gatot Nurmantyo, and the Indonesian House of Representatives commission on defence, intelligence, and foreign affairs (Komisi I) in February 2016 also revealed that the country is planning to locate its third submarine base on the same island.
Besides upgrading its base in the South China Sea, proceeds from the FMF is also being planned for the upgrade of another naval base at Piabung in Lampung, which lies close to the Sunda Strait - a major sea line of communication through the archipelago.
Depending on the outcome of this exploratory visit, IHS Jane's understands that a formal request for the FMF will be made by the Indonesian Ministry of Defence to the US' Department of Defence at a later time.