Fact Sheet

Indonesia Submarine Capabilities

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Indonesia Submarine Capabilities

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Capabilities at a Glance

The Indonesian Navy, also known as Tentar Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL), operates two classes of submarines: The older Cakra-class Type 209/1300 vessels and the Nagapasa-class Type 209/1400 vessels. A Central Command links the three main Indonesian fleets: The Western fleet in Jakarta, the Central Fleet in Makassar, and the Eastern Fleet in Sorong.1

Total Submarines in Fleet: 4*

  • Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs): 0
  • Nuclear-Powered attack submarines (SSNs): 0
  • Diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs): 4
  • Air-independent propulsion (AIP) enabled: 0

Submarines

Indonesia Submarine Table Class, Builder, Year Commissioned
*The 405 was launched 11 April 2019 but isn’t expected to be commissioned until 2021.2
** The KRI Nanggala 402 sank during a torpedo drill in April 2021.

History

Indonesia once operated a submarine force of 12 Whiskey-class vessels purchased from the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 70s.3 However, today it operates a force of four submarines. TNI-AL laid the KRI Cakra (401) in November 1977 and commissioned it in March 1981. It then laid the KRI Nanggala (402) in July 1978 and commissioned it in July 1981.4

Indonesia has expressed interest in acquiring more submarines to protect national interests and guard resources and sea-lanes. In 2006, Agence France-Presse reported that Indonesia was contemplating buying a total of 12 submarines from Russia, South Korea, or China. Owing largely to budgetary constraints, these procurements did not materialize; nevertheless, officials from TNI-AL continue to express aspirations for a large submarine fleet.5 In 2010 Deputy Naval Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Marsetio expressed his belief that Indonesia needed 39 more submarines to protect the country’s vast marine territory against external threats.6 Media reports citing Indonesia’s Defense Strategic Plan 2024 note that the document is aiming for a capability of at least 10 submarines.7

In April 2021, the German-built KRI-Nanggala 402 went missing off the coast of Bali during a torpedo drill. Debris from the submarine confirmed that it had descended to a deep seabed and fractured into three pieces. None of the 53 crew members survived.8

Modernization and Current Capabilities

Since the late 1990s, Indonesia has steadily modernized various aspects of its military structure. The Cakra-class submarines underwent major refits on different occasions, initially by HDW and later by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). These refits resulted in the modernization of propulsions systems as well as detection and navigation systems. Also, DSME added new fire control and combat systems.9

In December 2011, the Indonesian Ministry of Defense signed a $1.1 billion contract with DSME to increase its Navy with three Type 209/1400 diesel-electric attack submarines by 2020. Two of the vessels, christened the Nagapasa-class, were built in South Korea. The Nagapasa (403) was launched on 24 March 2016 at the Daewoo Shipyard and was delivered in 2017.10 The KRI Ardadedali (404) was launched on 24 October 2016 at Daewoo’s Shipyards and commissioned in April 2018.11 Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder Perseroan Terbatas Penataran Angkatan Laut (PT-PAL) constructed the third vessel which was launched in April 2019.12

In early April 2013, the Indonesian Navy opened the Palu Naval Base in Palu, Central Sulawesi to serve as the Navy’s main submarine base. Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Marsetio explained that the Palu Naval Base is well positioned to project Indonesian power in the Ambalat region, which is located just 550 km away and is the scene of an ongoing territorial dispute with Malaysia.13 On 28 September 2018, a tsunami struck Sulawesi, damaging the Naval Base and halting plans to deploy the Nagapasa-class submarines.14

Ship Biographies

Cakra-Class (Type 209/1300)

Indonesia possesses two Cakra-class diesel-electric attack submarines. These submarines are 59.5 meters long with a 6.2-meter-wide beam and can travel up to 21.5 knots when submerged. They can remain submerged for about 50 days without surfacing. Their weapons systems are capable of firing torpedoes.15

Nagapasa-Class (Type 209/1400)

Indonesia possesses three Nagapasa-Class diesel-electric attack submarines. These submarines are 61 meters long with a 6.3-meter-wide beam and can travel up to 21.5 knots when submerged. They can remain submerged for about 50 days without surfacing. Their weapons systems can fire anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.16

Import and Export Behavior

Imports

Indonesia has imported submarines from Germany’s Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME).

Exports

Indonesia is not an exporter of submarines.

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Glossary

SSBN
Ship, Submersible, Ballistic, Nuclear: A hull classification for a submarine capable of launching a ballistic missile. The "N", or nuclear, refers to the ship's propulsion system. SSBN's are generally reserved for strategic vessels, as most submarine launched ballistic missiles carry nuclear payloads. A non-strategic vessel carries the designation SSN, or attack submarine.
Diesel-electric submarine
Diesel-electric submarine: A submarine with a diesel-electric transmission. Diesel-electric transmissions require access to oxygen for the diesel generator to charge the submarine’s batteries or drive the motor. This type of submarine is thus louder and must surface more frequently than a nuclear-powered submarine. A diesel-electric submarine can fire conventional cruise missiles against land targets, and in theory, can also carry nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. Diesel-electric submarines are significantly cheaper to build and purchase than nuclear-powered vessels, which makes them the vessel of choice for smaller navies.
Air Independent Propulsion Technology (AIP)
Air Independent Propulsion Technology (AIP): A propulsion system that uses liquid (or compressed) oxygen or hydrogen fuel cells, thereby allowing submarines to stay submerged for longer periods without the need for external sources of oxygen. This increased endurance also increases a submarine’s survivability.
Deployment
The positioning of military forces – conventional and/or nuclear – in conjunction with military planning.

Sources

  1. “Cakra Type 209/1300 class,” Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2 March 2011, www.janes.com; Franz-Stefan Gady, “South Korea Launches 2nd Indonesian Attack Submarine,” The Diplomat, 24 October 2016, thediplomat.com; “Akan Ada 3 Komando Armada TNI AL, Pangarmatim Jadi Armada Pusat RI,” DetikNews, 27 February 2015, www.news.detik.com.
  2. Ridzwan Rahmat, “Indonesia Launches First Locally Assembled Submarine,” Jane’s 360, 11 April 2019, www.janes.com.
  3. Prashanth Parameswaran, “What’s Next for Indonesia’s Submarine Fleet?” The Diplomat, 12 April 2018, thediplomat.com.
  4. “Cakra Type 209/1300 class,” Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2 March 2011, www.janes.com.
  5. “Submarine Forces: Indonesia,” Jane’s Underwater Warfare Systems, 25 January 2011, www.janes.com.
  6. “RI needs 39 more submarines,” Antara News, 22 December 2010, www.indonesiaviews.com.
  7. “Indonesia,” Jane’s World Navies, 29 October 2012, IHS Jane’s.
  8. Beech, Hannah, Muktita Suhartono, and Dera Menra Sijabat, “Debris From Indonesian Submarine Is Found, Ending Hopes of Rescue,” The New York Times, 24 April 2021, www.nytimes.com.
  9. Franz-Stefan Gady, “South Korea Launches First Indonesian Stealth Submarine,” The Diplomat, 29 March 2016, thediplomat.com.
  10. Ridzwan Rahmat, “DSME launches first Indonesian Type 209/1400 SSK,” IHS Jane’s 360, 24 March 2016, www.janes.com.
  11. Ridzwan Rahmat, “DSME launches second Indonesian SSK,” IHS Jane’s 360, 24 October 2016, www.janes.com; Prashanth Parameswaran, “What’s Next for Indonesia’s Sumbarine Fleet?” The Diplomat, 12 April 2018, www.thediplomat.com.
  12. “Akan Ada 3 Komando Armada TNI AL, Pangarmatim Jadi Armada Pusat RI,” DetikNews, 27 February 2015, www.news.detik.com; Franz-Stefan Gady, “Indonesia Launches Thrid Nagapasa-Class Diesel Electric Attack Submarine,” The Diplomat, 11 April 2019, https://thediplomat.com; Ridzwan Rahmat, “Indonesia Launches First Locally Assembled Submarine,” Jane’s 360, 11 April 2019, www.janes.com.
  13. Ruslan Sangadji, “Navy opens new base prepared for submarines,” The Jakarta Post, 6 April 2013, www.thejakartapost.com.
  14. Ridzwan Rahmat, “Plans to Forward Deploy Indonesian Submarines Thwarted by Fatal Tsunami,” Jane’s 360, 2 October 2018, www.janes.com; “Indonesia Submarine Quay and Pier Damaged During Tsunami,” Bellingcat, 5 October 2018, www.bellingcat.com.
  15. “Indonesia,” IHS Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2017, ihsmarkit.com.
  16. “Indonesia,” IHS Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2017, ihsmarkit.com.

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