Capabilities at a Glance
The Indonesian Navy, also known as Tentara 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 First Fleet Command in Jakarta, the Second Fleet Command in Surabaya, and the Third Fleet Command 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
Indonesia once operated a submarine force of twelve Whiskey-class vessels purchased from the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 70s.2 However, today it operates a force of four submarines. TNI-AL laid down 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 1981.3
Indonesia has expressed interest in acquiring more submarines to protect its national interests and to guard resources and sea lanes. In 2006, Agence France-Presse reported that Indonesia was contemplating buying a total of twelve submarines from Russia, South Korea, or China.4 Owing largely to budgetary constraints, Indonesia purchased only three Nagapasa-class submarines from South Korea.
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.5
In the aftermath of the Nanggala sinking, the Indonesian military requested the acquisition of eight new submarines.6 Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder Perseroan Terbatas Penataran Angkatan Laut (PT-PAL) signed an agreement in February 2022 with the French defense contractor Naval Group to build two Scorpène-class conventional attack submarines in Surabaya with the possibility of ordering two more vessels.7 This procurement may replace the order of three additional Nagapasa-class submarines which Indonesia has been considering since 2019.8
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 Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (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. DSME also 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 purchase three Type 209/1400 diesel-electric attack submarines by 2020. Two of the vessels, christened the Nagapasa-class, were built in South Korea. The KRI Nagapasa (403) was launched on March 24, 2016 and delivered in 2017.10 The KRI Ardadedali (404) was launched on October 24, 2016 and commissioned in April 2018.11 PT-PAL constructed the third vessel, which was launched on April 11, 2019 and commissioned in April 2021.12
In early April 2013, the Indonesian Navy opened the Palu Naval Base in Palu, Central Sulawesi to complement the submarine base at Surabaya. On 28 September 2018, a tsunami struck Sulawesi, damaging the new naval base and halting plans to deploy the Nagapasa-class submarines.13 In response to tensions with China in the South China Sea, Indonesia began building a submarine base on Natuna Besar in the Riau Islands in 2021.14
Cakra-Class (Type 209/1300)
Indonesia possesses one Cakra-class diesel-electric attack submarine. These submarines are 59.5 meters long with a 6.2-meter 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 21-inch SUT heavyweight torpedoes produced domestically.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 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 21-inch Italian Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes.16
Import and Export Behavior
Indonesia has imported submarines from Germany’s HDW and South Korea’s DSME and plans to import submarine technology from France’s Naval Group.
Indonesia is not an exporter of submarines.
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- 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.
- The positioning of military forces – conventional and/or nuclear – in conjunction with military planning.
- “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; and Arfi Bambani, “Indonesian Fleet Command Formed to Deal with South China Sea Situation,” TheIndonesia.id, February 4, 2022, www.theindonesia.id.
- Prashanth Parameswaran, “What’s Next for Indonesia’s Submarine Fleet?” The Diplomat, 12 April 2018, thediplomat.com.
- “Cakra Type 209/1300 class,” Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2 March 2011, www.janes.com.
- “Submarine Forces: Indonesia,” Jane’s Underwater Warfare Systems, 25 January 2011, www.janes.com.
- Hannah Beech, 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.
- Ronna Nirmala, “Indonesia: $125 Billion Plan Seeks to Modernize Defense Arsenal,” Benar News, June 3, 2021, www.benarnews.org.
- Jon Grevatt, “Indonesia, France Line-up Collaboration on Scorpène Submarines,” Janes, February 11, 2022, www.janes.com.
- Gabriel Honrada, “Indonesia Picks France for Its New Sub Ambitions,” Asia Times, March 10, 2022, https://asiatimes.com.
- Franz-Stefan Gady, “South Korea Launches First Indonesian Stealth Submarine,” The Diplomat, 29 March 2016, thediplomat.com.
- Ridzwan Rahmat, “DSME launches first Indonesian Type 209/1400 SSK,” IHS Jane’s 360, 24 March 2016, www.janes.com.
- 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.
- “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.
- 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.
- Ridzwan Rahmat, “Indonesia Begins Construction of Submarine base in South China Sea,” Janes, April 7, 2021, www.janes.com.
- “Indonesia,” IHS Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2017, ihsmarkit.com.
- “Indonesia,” IHS Jane’s Fighting Ships, 2017, ihsmarkit.com.