24 January 2014
Indonesia sends warships to patrol southern border
Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flankers are also ready to fly to the border if an Australian ship is detected in Indonesian waters
Indonesian warships, including torpedo and missile craft, have been moved to its border with Australia following Australia's admission last week that some of its vessels had inadvertently entered Indonesian waters.
The Indonesian navy's chief spokesman, Commodore Untung Suropati, has confirmed a number of warships had moved towards the Australian border including frigates, fast torpedo craft (KCT), fast missile craft (KCR), corvettes and maritime patrol aircraft, the Jakarta Post reported.
All the ships are on the move, patrolling the waters, he said without specifying how many ships had been deployed.
Air force radar was also being used to patrol the border for Australian boats and Air Commodore Hadi Tjajanto said Australia was reachable from the Makassar base.
Australia apologised unreservedly last week after it was revealed there had been several naval incursions into Indonesian waters under its border protection plan designed to combat people-smuggling Operation Sovereign Borders.
The Indonesian president's foreign affairs spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah, said: A violation of our national territory for any reason cannot be tolerated.
If Prime Minister Abbott asks President Yudhoyono and the Indonesian people to understand Australia's seriousness with regards to its sovereignty, in the same vein, Indonesia also asks Australia to understand our firm commitment to our vital interests.
Indonesia has 16 Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flankers ready to fly to the border if an Australian ship is detected in Indonesian waters. It is estimated the aircraft would take about an hour to make the trip.
Indonesia is also beefing up its defence forces, with one MP naming Australia as the country's greatest threat.
A restructure of Indonesia's forces aims to deploy troops faster and to acquire long-range weapons.
The plan will integrate the regional resources of the army, the navy and the air force into multi-service groups that will be positioned in certain defence flashpoints integral to preserving the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty, the Jakarta Post said.
Susaningtyas Handayani Kertopati, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives defence, intelligence and foreign affairs committee, said an outward approach was being emphasised.
The greatest threat will obviously be from Australia, she said.
Her comments came as an anonymous official said a clash with Australia was imminent now the Indonesian navy was on the border.
The mobilisation of the Indonesian navy comes as asylum seekers say they suffered burns to their hands in an Australian towback operation to Indonesia.
The Australian navy, the prime minister, Tony Abbott, the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, and the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, have rejected the allegations and Bishop said Australia would co-operate with the Indonesian police investigation.