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Indonesia Finally Gets Its Own Leopard Tanks

November 18, 2013

Indonesian Leopard 2The modernization of Indonesia’s military, the TNI, is moving at a swift pace.

Last month two Leopard 2 tanks and two Marder APCs were shipped to a military unit in East Java for a public ceremony.

An additional 101 Leopards and 42 Marders along with 11 engineering vehicles will be delivered by 2016. The Indonesian government approached German firm Rheinmetall for the tanks in 2012. The deal was closed in May this year for $290 million.

It must be understood the German armor Indonesia bought is surplus. A similar transaction was earlier sought with Holland, another operator of the Leopard 2, but political opposition from the Dutch government scuttled the deal.

The Leopard 2 is a third-generation main battle tank (MBT) that entered service in 1979. It shares many characteristics with its US counterpart, the M1 Abrams. Though considered among the best tanks in the world, its combat record is thin. A limited deployment by the Canadian military in Afghanistan marks its first immersion in a real war zone.

The Marder APC functions the same as the M2 Bradley or BMP-2 and is often designated an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV).

Indonesia’s ground forces aren’t the only recipient of new equipment. This year the final deliveries for a squadron of Sukhoi multirole fighters were completed. Like its neighbors Vietnam and Malaysia, beginning in 2003 Indonesia began a long-term process of acquiring affordable fourth-generation fighters.

Today Indonesia’s air force maintains a combination squadron of Su-27’s and Su-30’s. Both models were upgraded by Russia to perform multirole missions for a total cost of $1.1 billion.

Aside from its Russian purchases, the air force is expecting new planes from the US, South Korea, and Germany. These include 24 F-16s, a squadron of T-50 Golden Eagle trainer jets, and German-made turbo-propeller aircraft.

An additional half a billion dollars has gone to eight AH-64D Apache helicopter gunships.

Indonesia’s marines, on the other hand, have boosted their amphibious firepower with brand new BMP-3’s that were acquired between 2011 and 2012.

The Indonesian navy won’t be left behind and new submarines and ships are on the horizon. According to available figures, Indonesia’s military spending could reach more than $20 billion by decade’s end.