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Indonesian Leopard MBT procurement plan faces criticism

26 January 2012

Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank

The Indonesian Army's procurement plan of 100 used Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) from the Netherlands is facing critical reviews from Commission I legislators overseeing defence affairs from the House of Representatives (DPR).

The army is planning to purchase the tanks at a cost of nearly $600m in a bid to boost its operational readiness and also to support joint military training missions with neighbouring countries. As part of the country's military equipment upgrade programme, the planned procurement has received constant criticism since its announcement a few months ago, with many House Commission I officials insisting that the tanks are "unsuitable" for Indonesian conditions.

People's Conscience Party member Susaningtyas Kertapati questioned the compatibility of the tanks with the country's infrastructure conditions, saying that the tank weighs more than 60t and could be too heavy for the nations' bridges and roads.

Kertapati added: "The main battle tank purchase must not be decided without taking into account our country's geographical landscape."

However, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander admiral Agus Suhartono defended the purchase by saying that the procurement plan of Leopard tanks was still open to revision.

Suhartono said: "It is not a final decision. The Leopard tank is only one option, there are many other tanks that are also under consideration."

The commission also believes that the purchase would deter efforts to develop Indonesia's own defence industry and stressed that the ministry should prioritise procurement of patrol ships to protect maritime borders. A number of Dutch legislators have opposed the sale, claiming that the tanks may be misused by Indonesia due to rising human rights violations across the archipelago, especially in Papua New Guinea.

Negotiations on the purchase will continue until 30 January 2012 and the army is also studying an offer from the German military for the same tank type.

Image: The Indonesian Army plans to purchase 100 used Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) from the Netherlands.