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A Non-Transparent Radar Acquisition
Thursday, 25 August, 2016 | 15:28 WIB
A Non-Transparent Radar Acquisition

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Suspected irregularities in the procurement of six new sets of radars for the Air Force need to be investigated. These new radars are needed to bring the Air Force closer to the required 32 units, up from the 20 existing installations. The tender process began in April last year, but was annulled the following November because no participant met the criteria. 

The cancellation, some suspect, was the result of intervention from senior Indonesian Military (TNI) officials who wanted to ensure that the contract was awarded to Thales Raytheon Systems. Based in Paris, France, this producer of defense equipment has supplied radars to the TNI before. The tender documents show that other similar companies, including Danish company Weibel Scientific, offered more sophisticated product at lower costs. If Thales wins the tender, it will be very obvious that there was collusion between vendor and buyer. This is why the bidding should be repeated. Even the specification for the radars was changed to match the Thales product.

The defense ministry inspector-general must investigate this case. More importantly, the TNI should overhaul its defense equipment procurement system, to prevent future corrupt recurrences.

The procurement of major weapons systems has always been prone to manipulation because it takes place behind closed doors and because large sums are involved. We still remember the opaque plan to purchase Sukhoi Su-35 aircraft last May. The price of the airplanes was higher than the publicly-quoted figure. It was also unclear if and how the process of technology transfer would be carried out. In 2012, there was an uproar when the TNI ordered six Sukhoi Su-30 planes at an inflated price.

A number of regulations have already been issued to reform the defense equipment procurement mechanism, such as Law No. 16/2012 on the Defense Industry. Among other provisions, this law states that any purchase of military equipment from foreign parties must involve the domestic defense industry, and that there must be technology transfer and local content.

The purchase of radars from Thales Raytheon Systems did not comply with those specifications. There was no technology transfer because the Indonesian defense industry and human resources did not have the capacity. 

Thiswas clearly a breach of the law. The TNI should ensure that all foreign military product acquisition is prepared and vetted by the domestic defense equipment industry and involve its human resources.

Unfortunately, the existing regulations do not allow for the involvement of the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) nor the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Given the number of collusion cases and price inflation, the time has come for the government to consider involving these two anti-graft institutions when procuring defense equipment. (*)


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