The Indonesian Air Force plans to increase operations at bases near its borders in an effort to deter threats of incursion.
“We must pay attention to several air bases and put more forces in those areas so that other countries will not infringe upon our territorial integrity,” newly installed Air Force chief of staff Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna announced after a leadership meeting in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on Wednesday.
Agus said that the five air bases were strategic given their locations near territorial outposts.
“At Natuna, for instance, we know that the area is part of the South China Sea, thus it is very strategic for Indonesia.”
Earlier, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Moeldoko said he expected the Air Force to play a bigger role in safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity in the South China Sea.
The South China Sea is a semi-enclosed sea bordering China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan. Due to its proximity to so many nations, complicated, often sensitive questions over jurisdiction are common. In recent years, a series of disputes over islands have rocked relations between China and other countries.
The Air Force chief of staff said some of the programs would include joint military exercises with other branches of the armed forces.
In addition, he said efforts would be made to improve radar systems to better detect movements in the country’s airspace.
At present, Indonesia lacks 12 of the 32 radar systems it needs to police its borders.
Last year, the Air Force reported several illegal flights over Indonesian territory, particularly in the eastern part of the country.
“We need more radar systems to reduce the number of blind spots, which I hope we will get soon,” Agus said.
On Wednesday, the Air Force held a two-day leadership meeting to draw up working plans for 2015. More than 300 high-ranking officers attended the meeting.
Besides discussing the plan to strengthen the five air bases, participants also deliberated matters related to the maritime axis doctrine championed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
The Air Force, Agus said, would play a key role in realizing that doctrine.
“The maritime defense system needs both a strong Navy and a capable Air Force to secure the country’s airspace,” Agus said. (The Jakarta Post)