Indonesia sends warships as 'boat people' row worsens
Fighter jets could be deployed, military chief warns Australia
A Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flanker, as used by the Indonesian Air Force (file picture: Wikimedia Commons)
- Bagus BT Saragih and Ina Parlina for the Jakarta Post
- January 23, 2014
With Canberra pressing ahead with its hard-line policy of turning back asylum seekers to Indonesian waters, Jakarta told its neighbor on Wednesday the policy could lead to violations of Indonesia’s sovereignty and that it had increased security on its borders to prevent incursions.
A number of Indonesian Navy warships have been deployed and four Air Force defense radars have been programmed to closely monitor the southern border, military officials told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
“We are watching four radars in Timika, Merauke [in Papua], Saumlaki [Maluku] and Buraen [East Nusa Tenggara], which all face Australia,” Air Force chief spokesman Air Commodore Hadi Tjahjanto said.
“If we notice any border violations, our air base in Makassar will be ready. Australia is reachable from there.” Hadi was referring to the Sultan Hasanuddin Air Force Base in the South Sulawesi provincial capital, which is the base of the 11th squadron, consisting of 16 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flankers.
The Flankers have a maximum range of some 3,000 kilometers. The sea border lies some 1,000 km from Makassar. At Mach 1, or the speed of sound, the Flankers would reach the border in little over an hour.
Navy chief spokesman Commodore Untung Suropati confirmed that a number of warships had moved toward the Australian border. He said these included frigates, fast torpedo craft (KCT), fast missile craft (KCR) and corvettes as well as maritime patrol aircraft. He declined to reveal the precise number and location of the assets.
“All the ships are on the move, patrolling the waters,” he said.
Tension between the two neighbors reached a new height Wednesday after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that stopping the boats was “a matter of sovereignty” and Jakarta should understand Canberra was taking the issue seriously.
Full Story: Tension with OZ escalates as RI deploys warships
Source: Jakarta Post