Military Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul and Airborne Special Mission Asia, Indonesia 2013 – Chairmans report

By Terry Loughran, Rear Admiral CB FRAeS  |  

Whilst Military MRO and Airborne Special Mission might appear to be two separate entities, it was apparent from the significant interest shown by the Indonesian Air Force that there was an inextricable link between the lack of reliability and availability of their air assets and the immense task of policing and defending Indonesia’s strategic geographical position.

Its vast land mass and an even larger marine Exclusive Economic Zone  includes three sea lanes vital to world trade,  and threats from piracy, illegal fishing, trafficking of people, and the smuggling of drugs and arms. The ability to counter these and to ensure national sovereignty is a huge task and directly related to the Airborne Special Mission platform and sensor assets addressed on the second and third days in ASM.

Military Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MMRO)

Presentations for MMRO by Tangent Link’s Strategic Sponsor RUAG, including under that Company’s brand, the innovative Rosebank (Australia) Engineering anti-corrosion process Supersonic Particle Disposition (SPD), captured the imagination of all attendees. These were led by Air Vice Marshal Sumarno, Maintenance and Material Commander,   an advocate of commercial MMRO from an earlier Tangent Link Conference in Malaysia.

In this event, RUAG were supported by the UK Aerospace and Defence Group Marshall, who are making their own inroads into Indonesia.

The number of delegates attending precluded a viable MMRO Workshop, but the case for a cost effective long term relationship with a trusted MMRO partner was well received, and RUAG was able to secure an invitation to meet in a more focused group of experts to take this forward.

Colonels Dadang Hermawan and Amrullah Aswani of the Indonesian Air Force, who joined the Workshop panel contributed to this advance.  At this meeting an important message must be the requirement for budgets beyond one year, if long term cost effective improvements to reliability and availability are to be made.


Airborne Special Mission

From that positive start Airborne Special Mission embarked on scene setting presentations on the WHY – the need for Air Assets with appropriate sensors.  The HOW followed with a comprehensive range of equipment presentations complemented by Exhibitors in the adjacent Hall where Networking and refreshments were focused. This tried and tested Tangent Link model affords maximum exposure of Exhibitors to the attending delegates, all declaring themselves satisfied with the quality of enquiries.

Aspirations for greater coordination through Bakorkamla (along the lines of the Malaysian MMEA) and with ReCAAP Information Exchange Centre in Singapore, would all contribute to greater effectiveness, but require a degree of political will beyond the remit of this Conference.

Examples of threats were presented from; Drugs (an internal use problem as well as trafficking by sea); ship hijacking, in which endemic corruption is suspected of playing a part; fishery protection, in an area of the world where fish is for many the only source of protein; and piracy affecting the Seychelles, likely to return with the withdrawal of the International Naval force next year unless structural reform in Somalia is progressed.

The presentation of ASM platforms included: the RUAG Dornier 228 new generation in the Oil Pollution role; the rugged short take off M28 05 multi sensor platform from PZL Poland; SELEX –ES Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance System ATOS; the SAAB ERIEYE AEW &C; and a series of bespoke sensor equipment well within the cost of Indonesia’s budgets.

An enlightened presentation on China’s Maritime Surveillance Capabilities exposed the new tactic of cloaking their surveillance activities in civilian platforms, with the aim of avoiding confrontation while achieving Information Dominance in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.

This area could experience further military incidents requiring capable national defence forces in addition to the para-military roles of EEZ patrol and border security.

With her huge population, (fourth in the world), political stability, South East Asia’s biggest economy and rapidly becoming one of the world’s major emerging economies, Indonesia is attracting major investors. Now focused on this region, Tangent Link is delighted to have been invited back in 2014 to conduct a range of events from traditional to new topics.

Terry Loughran

Conference Chairman

8 July 2013