An Indian submarine has, for the first time ever, docked in Indonesia, which is among the countries locked in a maritime dispute with China in the contentious South China Sea, as part of the continuing overall diplomatic-military outreach to Asean countries.
The 3,000-tonne diesel-electric submarine, INS Sindhukesari, reached Jakarta for the ‘maiden operational turnaround’ after transiting through the Sunda Strait on Wednesday. “Indian warships often visit Indonesia and other Asean countries. This first long-range deployment of a submarine underlines the operational capability and reach of the country’s underwater combat arm as well,” a senior official told TOI.
INS Sindhukesari had undergone a major Rs 1,197-crore ‘medium refit-cum-life extension’ at Severodvinsk in Russia that ended in 2018, as part of the ongoing plan to upgrade four old Sindhughosh-class (Russian-origin Kilo-class) and two Shishumar-class (German HDW) submarines to stem depletion in the underwater fleet.
The submarine’s deployment to Indonesia comes soon after India conducted operational training to handle the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles for 21 military personnel from Philippines at Nagpur earlier this month.
India will supply three missile batteries of the shore-based anti-ship systems of the BrahMos, a deadly conventional (non-nuclear) weapon that flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8 with a strike range of 290-km, under the $375 million contract inked in January last year.
The first such BrahMos export order to Philippines, which also has bitter territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, is expected to pave the way for such deals with other Asean countries like Indonesia and Vietnam.
Along with the push for military ties with African and Gulf countries on one side, India has been steadily cranking up defence relations with Asean countries on the other side through combat exercises, exchanges, training programmes to operate fighters and submarines, and now increasingly weapon supplies.
India, for instance, had transferred a Kilo-class submarine INS
Sindhuvir to Myanmar in 2020, as was then reported by TOI. Apart from
BrahMos, jointly developed with Russia, India also hopes to sell the
indigenous Akash missile systems, which can intercept hostile
aircraft, helicopters, drones and subsonic cruise missiles at a range
of 25-km, to countries like Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, among
On the bilateral exercises front, India has conducted the ‘SIMBEX’
naval exercise with Singapore, the ‘Agni Warrior’ Army exercise
with Singapore, ‘Harimau Shakti’ with Malaysia and the ‘Garud
Shakti’ with Indonesia in recent months.
With Indonesia, India also conducts coordinated naval patrols twice a
year, with the last one being held along the international maritime
boundary line in December.
“India and Indonesia have expanded their strategic and defence
cooperation in a wide range of areas, especially after inking a new
defence cooperation agreement during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the
country in 2018,” another official said.