Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 17:46 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 17:46 | SYDNEY

Jakarta U-turn on U-boats?


Rory Medcalf


15 June 2009 14:36

Here’s a new twist to the tale of naval modernisation in Australia’s region: a news report that South Korea’s Daewoo plans to bid to build two submarines for Indonesia.

The last time there were headlines about Indonesia improving its woeful submarine force was in 2007, when the impression was that the purchase of an initial two Russian Kilo-class subs was a done deal. But presumably not all was placid beneath the surface, so Jakarta may be considering the South Korea option. 

The Russians have had an easy run in the Asian defence market for a long time, but have a reputation for unreliability when it comes to finalising contracts and poor after-sales service. The Indians, for instance, have found negotiating their purchase of the former Soviet aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to be excruciating, with the Russians revising the price upwards by the tune of US$2 billion. 

Whatever the reason for Jakarta's flirtation with Daewoo, we could be seeing the first stirrings of an intra-Asian arms market, in which South Korea will be well-positioned to pursue a line of business that Japan, with its constitutional ban on arms exports, cannot. Whether Australian defence planners will be thrilled about this is another matter.

Photo by Flickr user MATEUS_27:24&25, used under a Creative Commons license.