Indonesia Navy Limitations Exposed

Indo’s bold new naval plans.

Indonesia Navy Limitations Exposed in AirAsia Plane Search

By Chris Blake

Indonesia’s hunt for the wreckage of a downed AirAsia Bhd (AIRA) jet is exposing the constraints on its navy as President Joko Widodo seeks to transform his nation into a major maritime power.

Widodo, the former Jakarta governor known as Jokowi who took office in October, has likened himself to a “captain trusted by the people.” He’s laid out an ambitious vision that spans the development of the fishing industry, improved port infrastructure, stronger sea defenses and better diplomacy as it deals with illegal fishing, territorial disputes and piracy.

Key to that plan is modernizing and expanding a navy that patrols the waters of the world’s biggest archipelago, a string of more than 17,000 islands that would stretch almost from New York to London. Indonesia has long focused the bulk of its defense spending on ground forces as it dealt with internal security threats, leaving the navy short of ships, manpower and technology.

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