America gifts spying drone: House gives approval

The request is submitted in a Hearing between the Ministry of Defense and Committee I held in the Senayan Parliamentary Complex, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday (26/02/2020). (Photo: IO/Rayi Gigih)

IO, Jakarta – The Ministry of Defense has requested the approval of Committee I of the House of Representatives (“DPR”) for the gift of 14 drones or unmanned ScanEagle aircraft, upgrading of three 412 helicopters, and necessary equipment from the United States. The request was submitted in a Hearing between the Ministry of Defense and Committee I held in the Senayan Parliamentary Complex, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday (26/02/2020).

Responding to the request, Chairwoman of DPR’s Defense Committee Meutya Hafid said that the House agrees that the government should accept the gift of weaponry systems from the United States. “This is an approval meeting. According to regulations, any gift to the State or government, including the gift of weaponry system, must first be approved by DPR. Therefore, today we are granting this approval,” she said.

Meutya said DPR’s approval comes with the proviso that the Government remain prudent in receiving any gift. “What do we mean by ‘prudent’? Naturally doing things such as prechecking its viability and utility. Also, things like detection equipment and other such matters must first be cleared out of the gift,” she said.

Meutya considers gift-giving to be something natural among allied countries. In this case, the United States has long been a partner of Indonesia’s. Besides, it is not the first time such a gift is given. In fact, the giving of weaponry system occurs routinely. “It is that we cooperate, that we partner with many countries, and one of our major partners is the United States. Within this framework, gift-giving becomes natural for the two cooperating countries,” she said.

Similar to Meutya, Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said that the gift from the United States is an ordinary thing in the relations between two countries. He further stated that there is no hidden intent behind it. “Gifts are something you exchange when you have a cooperative scheme. It is something normal and it is not something new either, there is no hidden interest. It’s part of the cooperation, not something illegal. Don’t think “could it be because of this or that”, it is just a mark of good relations,” he said in the Presidential Palace Complex, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday (26/02/2020).

The United States Government provided a foreign military financing (FMF) gift program to Indonesia from 2014 to 2015. On this basis, the Indonesian Naval Forces TNI AL took advantage of the FMF gift program, in this case Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and upgrades for Bell 412 helicopter in 2017. As per regulations, the Ministry of Defense formed a review team to check whether the gift was acceptable in terms of its technical, economic, political, and strategic aspects. After making the evaluation, the Ministry of Defense decided to accept the gift of weaponry systems.

To Strengthen Our Defense System
Deputy Minister of Defense Sakti Wahyu Trenggono said that the gift of weaponry system from the United States Government will be used to strengthen our Navy. In his written statement made on Wednesday (26/02/2020), Trenggono repeats that the Ministry of Defense has appointed a team to evaluate the gift, and decided to accept the gift. The Navy needs the USD 28.3 million-ScanEagle drone to improve the abilities of maritime patrol, and to integrate its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) abilities. This will help the Navy to strengthen our national defense.

The ScanEagle drone is part of the ScanEagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which were developed and created by Insitu Inc., a subsidiary of The Boeing Company. The UAV is based on the Insitu SeaScan miniature robot plane developed for the commercial fishing industry. Boeing’s website stated that the ScanEagle drone can operate at altitudes higher than 15,000 feet (4,572 m) and wander around the battlefield on extended missions for up to 20 hours. The drone has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 22 kg. it is driven by a 15 hp pusher piston engine. The ScanEagle’s exploratory flight speed is about 111 km per hour, with a maximum speed of 148 km per hour. Flight altitude limit is 5,950 meters. It can endure a flight for more than 24 hours. In the Southeast Asia-Pacific region, it is already in use by the Singaporean Navy and the Australian Army and Navy. In fact, military Australia’s ScanEagle is battle proven in Iraq.

Meanwhile, our Navy needs the USD 6.3 million Bell 412 helicopter upgrade to improve the effectiveness of its work and improve our national defense. “The ScanEagle drone will be used by our Navy for special needs. We would only need to spend about IDR 10 billion to integrate the equipment with our other weaponry systems and ensure its data security. PT LEN will be doing the integration work,” Meutya said.

Prabowo works to materialize Jokowi’s demands

Earlier, President Joko Widodo emphasizes the importance of maintaining NKRI sovereignty by strengthening its weaponry system with modern equipment according to the latest technological development. “Our country must become a good regional power everyone in East Asia respects. Therefore, we need to strengthen our defense with modern weaponry systems, one that relies on the abilities of domestic defense equipment industry,” said the President in the introduction session for a limited meeting late last year.

As for procuring weaponry systems from other countries and other forms of defense cooperation, the Head of State requests that there is a certainty of technological transfer to Indonesia. In this way, our national defense industry will have better knowledge for producing similar weaponry systems. This will help our defense industry improve its competitiveness against the defense industries of other countries. Furthermore, the Government’s weaponry system procurement policies must also be based on calculations and anticipation of the rapid development of global weaponry system. “We don’t want to procure obsolete weaponry systems, old technologies that do not fit the pattern of battles in the future,” the President said. 

In response to the President’s request, Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto agrees that the government must strengthen its defense by improving its defense and weaponry systems. In order to help President Joko Widodo’s national vision and mission realize an advanced, sovereign, and Independent Indonesia based on strong character and mutual cooperation, the Minister of Defense said that he will do his best to effect any acquisitions to protect NKRI’s sovereignty.

Prabowo stated that in order to maintain national security, the ideas and philosophy that base the Ministry of Defense’s formulation of general policies in the future will be based on the purpose of civics. Therefore, national defense and security must not be treated as an addendum or mere participation, but it is a prime objective of civics: to provide protection for all Indonesian citizens. “We may construct much great national infrastructure, but if we are unable to maintain the security of our land and maritime territories, we will lose our sovereignty and security as a nation,” he said.

The Minister of Defense requests that all elements of the State start, maintain, and preserve a good defense system with efficient budget and work. He believes that peace is impossible without stability, and stability is impossible without economic development. Finally, without economic development, we will never prosper. This is why stability must be obtained by making investments in defense. After all, a good defense is an investment in itself. (Dan)