Home' Defence Technology Review : DTR FEB 2017 Contents 29
DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW | ISSUE 28 | FEB 2017
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A large-scale exercise by the
Indonesian Army (TNI-AD) has
revealed the scope of recent
increases in deployable land combat
power by Australia’s largest northern
Exercise shines light on
new TNI combined arms
CONDUCTED LATE LAST year between 10 and 17 November
in and around the remote Natuna and Riau islands, which lie in
the South China Sea, approximately 1,100km north of Jakarta and
wedged between Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, the exercise was
a demonstration of the TNI’s rapidly growing force projection and
combined arms capabilities, bringing together infantry (including
mechanised infantry and at least 200 paratroops dropped by
C-130 Hercules), special forces (Kopassus), armour, artillery, air
defence and air mobility assets and waterborne assault craft in a
series of manoeuvres across a broad spread of territory.
Involving around 3,500 personnel, the exercise also showcased
a surprising array of new capabilities that elevate the standing
of the TNI to a more flexible, deployable and capable military
force within the Asia-Pacific region. Whilst Indonesia may still
retain large standing forces geared more toward internal security
than operational deployments, the TNI clearly now possesses
the capacity to project significant combat power offshore, if only
within its own 27,000-island chain.
The array of military equipment involved in the exercise is
impressive: Leopard 2 RI main battle tanks (MBT) and a bridge
layer variant, Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV),
M113A1 armoured personnel carriers, CEASAR 155mm self-
propelled howitzers (SPH), ASTROS (Artillery Saturation Rocket
System) multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), KMC Komando
fast assault boats, and advanced all-weather 35mm air defence
guns for airfield and landing zone defence.
Of note also was the effectiveness of the TNI’s locally-built
ADRI-L landing ship tank (LST) design, namely the 5,200 tonne
KRI Teluk Bintuni, to transport 19 Leopard 2 RI MBTs to the
exercise area. The three 120m ships of this class have a 1,200
tonne cargo payload and can carry six Leopard 2 MBTs at a time.
The various LST designs in TNI service would seem ideal for
independent amphibious missions across the vast Indonesian
For the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the list of TNI-AD
capabilities employed during the exercise has highlighted several
capability deficiencies in the Australian Army’s own order of
battle. Some of these deficiencies will be ticked off the list via
Land 400 (Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle and IFV) and Land
8113 (Long-Range Rocket), but for other capability gaps – such as
the SPH and independent heavy landing ship – there are no such
plans to address.
The Australian Army, long considered technologically superior
to any in the near region except perhaps for the Singaporean
ABOVE: The new ASTROS II MLRS was live-fired during the
exercise. The TNI-AD operates the ASTROS II weapon system
across two artillery battalions, each with 18 6x6 launchers.
RIGHT: In addition to towed twin 35mm air defence guns, the
TNI-AD deployed the more advanced Skyshield 35mm close-range
air defence system on hardstands at an air base in the Natuna-
Riau island chain.
BELOW: The locally-built KMC Komando is modelled after the
Swedish CB90 fast assault boat.
RIGHT AND BELOW: The TNI-
AD deployed an impressive
mix of land combat
capabilities during the
exercise around the Natuna-
Riau islands, including the
CAESAR 155mm SPH and its
new Leopard 2 RI MBT shown
here. Images: TNI
Army, has been overtaken by the TNI-AD in a few short
years in several key areas of capability: mechanised infantry,
self-propelled artillery, self-propelled rocket systems, gun-
based air defence, riverine/fast assault boats and independent
The list of deployable combat capabilities which the TNI-AD
now possesses and which the Australian Army does not and
will not for some time makes for an interesting comparison.
DTR has broken down the respective capabilities to highlight
how far the Australian Army has fallen behind in the
aforementioned capability areas (see table next page).
Whilst it is acknowledged that an effective military capability
is also comprised of proper training, in-service support,
sustainment and good leadership, the platform or system to
deliver that capability must first be at hand.
Interestingly, the TNI-AD has retained a quantity of its
elderly M101 105mm howitzers, with these being airlifted
during the exercise onto firing positions by Mi-17 medium
helicopters. The Australian Army, by contrast, gave away its
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