Jakarta [Indonesia], May 30 (ANI): In response to repeated Chinese incursions into its waters, Indonesia aims to expand its submarine fleet by as much as triple its current line up to 12 vessels, according to multiple defence sources.
Jakarta is also seeking to ramp up its fleet of corvettes and has deployed five submarines, but lost one, the KRI Nanggala-402, reported Nikkei Asia.
Though Indonesia ranks third in the world with the area of waters that fall under its exclusive economic zone, the size of its submarine fleet lags behind countries like Japan, which ranks sixth and has 20 vessels.
This comes after the Indonesian submarine that went missing off Bali with 53 crew members on board sunk last month, killing all crewmen.
"There is no hope of finding survivors among the 53 crew members aboard," said an official.
Critics have slammed the government for sending out the 44-year-old submarine on drills. The Navy said the German-made vessel was "ready for battle", reported DW News Agency.
After the accident, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto indicated that the country will step up investment in military equipment and is pursuing a joint production agreement with South Korea, while France, Russia and Turkey have offered to export the vessels, reported Nikkei Asia.
The accident has fueled a sense of urgency in the country about the state of its submarine fleet.
Meanwhile, China's 'nine-dash' line intersects a portion of Indonesia's EEZ around the Natuna Islands, which is operated by Chinese fishing boats and Beijing has also deployed its coast guard ships. After China authorised its ship to use firepower, Jakarta is bracing for a possible increase in activity in the area.
Indonesia has been working with South Korea on submarines in recent years and is pursuing technical cooperation with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, reported Nikkei Asia.
When Indonesia imports defence kit, it asks for technology transfers to boost its own technical abilities and to secure jobs. Though South Korea has offered favourable terms with its prices, the Indonesian side has not been satisfied with the capabilities of these vessels, citing power supply problems connected to batteries, among other problems.
The ill-fated submarine that sank was also completely refurbished in South Korea in 2012.
On the other hand, submarines from Japan would be more state-of-the-art, being much quieter and offering more time of operation underwater. However, their prices are higher and technology transfer conditions would be much more sensitive.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Beijing's rising assertiveness against counter claimants in the East and South Sea has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific. (ANI)