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Indonesia buys two submarines from France’s Naval Group

The Scorpene-class submarine can carry 31 crew members and 18 torpedoes and missiles.
The Scorpene-class submarine can carry 31 crew members and 18 torpedoes and missiles. - Copyright ANP/AFP Olaf Kraak
The Scorpene-class submarine can carry 31 crew members and 18 torpedoes and missiles. - Copyright ANP/AFP Olaf Kraak

Indonesia has ordered two Scorpene-class attack submarines from France’s Naval Group as part of a defence cooperation agreement signed with Paris in 2021, the company said Tuesday.

The announcement comes just over two weeks after the Dutch government picked Naval Group for a submarine deal, giving the company another boost three years after Australia abruptly cancelled a major contract.

Amid growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia has signed several deals with French defence companies in recent years.

Under the 2021 agreement with France, Indonesia has also placed an order for 42 Rafale fighter jets worth a total of $8.1 billion.

The diesel-electric Scorpenes, capable of carrying 18 torpedoes and missiles, will be built at the PT PAL shipyard in Indonesia, Naval Group said in a statement.

Under the deal, Naval Group will transfer its technological know-how while “the management, operation and maintenance will be conducted in Indonesia” by Indonesians.

The agreement will create thousands of long-term, highly skilled jobs, Naval Group added.

“Naval Group is very honoured to be part of this new chapter in the strategic alliance between Indonesia and France,” said the French firm’s chief executive, Pierre Eric Pommellet.

The vessels “will strengthen the country’s maritime sovereignty and support the Indonesian Navy in achieving regional superiority at sea,” he said.

“In addition to the submarines, our strategic partnership with PT PAL will also support the Indonesian defence industry to actively prepare the future of naval warfare in the country,” Pommellet added.

– Mastering submarine technology –

The 72-metre-long (236-foot) Scorpene can dive as deep as 300 metres and remain underwater for more than 12 days, carrying a crew of 31 sailors.

Naval Group has sold six Scorpene submarines to India, four to Brazil, two to Chile and two to Malaysia.

PT PAL’s president director, Kaharuddin Djenod, was quoted as saying in the Naval Group statement that the submarine deal showed the “high commitment and trust of the Indonesian government in the capability of local engineers to advancing defence technology”.

“In the future, Indonesia is expected to be able to master submarine technology,” he added.

France sought to bolster alliances with other partners in the Asia-Pacific region following the Australian submarine deal debacle.

Canberra angered Paris in 2021 when it scrapped a deal to buy 12 Barracuda-class combat submarines from Naval Group in favour of US and British nuclear-powered technology.

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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