Skip to content

Indonesia Is Making New Infantry Weapons

March 19, 2023
Via PT Dahana.

A state-owned manufacturer specializing in chemicals and composite materials is building a serious catalog of military products in record time. In late February images shared on PT Dahana’s social media accounts showed trainees touring its sprawling Central Management Office/Kampus in Subang Regency and viewing a display of ordnance, including unguided aerial bombs. Part of the same onsite exhibit was a mockup for a lightweight shoulder-fired rocket launcher. It can be found in PT Dahana‘s free brochure simply labeled “anti-tank weapon” and is armed with a single 80mm rocket loaded inside a 102x1002mm launch tube with an integrated trigger assembly. According to its specifications the launch tube is reloadable and effective range for its munition is up to 300 meters.

The appearance of PT Dahana’s “anti-tank weapon” resembles different European models: the popular Saab AT4 comes to mind, except this Indonesian anti-tank rocket launcher can be fired not just once but multiple times. The feature makes it akin to the Instalaza C-90 Reusable that’s manufactured in Spain. What’s unclear about PT Dahana’s new portable weapon is its optic, whether it’s a basic flip sight or a complete subsystem that’s folded into the launch tube’s surface. It’s important to highlight the launch tube holding the munition is a combination of polyfoam and rubber with a 22mm thickness. The anti-tank weapon was already shown in public at Indonesia’s largest arms show in 2022. But there has been little media exposure since. Another unknown is how each launcher and its munitions are carried given the absence of handles or removable straps and the needed containers.

Shoulder-fired anti-tank rockets are coming out of Asian military industries at a frequent clip. China and Taiwan each have newer offerings based on recoilless launch tubes with trigger assemblies borrowed from small arms. In Taiwan’s case, however, its Kestrel rocket launcher is only made in limited quantities but has become symbolic of national “defense” manufacturing without being approved for export. Meanwhile, in South Korea, the conglomerate Hanwha Defense has its own offering in portable anti-armor and anti-structure weapons in the form of a licensed-made Instalaza C-100. The city state of Singapore directed its military-industrial joint venture for the “Matador” lightweight multi-purpose rocket launcher co-produced with Dynamit Nobel.

The likely evolution of PT Dahana’s shoulder-fired rocket launcher are tweaks to its ergonomics around the launch tube and then ammunition types for different roles: anti-armor, anti-structure, high explosive fragmentation, etc. It’s still early to envision the export potential of this rocket launcher. Copies of the Soviet vintage RPG-7 remain popular in the ASEAN and are manufactured by two countries–Myanmar and Vietnam. Older recoilless rifles of Chinese, Soviet, and US origin are ubiquitous as well. For decades the absence of a locally made portable anti-tank weapon for Indonesia’s ground forces no doubt inspired PT Dahana’s attempt at one as their expertise in forming and designing explosive projectiles deepened.

Indonesia’s military-industrial sector is making important strides in its engineering and manufacturing capacity. But the slow pace of technological inputs and joint ventures, not to mention illicit efforts to acquire sensitive technology, has put limits on how far domestic projects can reach. The country remains at the stage where it assembles and integrates parts supplied from abroad to sustain the production lines of state-owned manufacturers. The pivot away from this has just begun. This decade should have some breakthroughs though and these will pole vault Indonesia to a competitive position in the global arms industry.


Comments are closed.