The multi-national defence group Thales and Indonesian defence supplier PT Len have established a joint venture that will advance the archipelago’s defence capabilities.

The agreement is designed to strengthen local industrial activities in manufacturing, engineering and other services to reinforce the country’s ‘Made-in-Indonesia’ strategy, thereby enhancing sovereign defence capabilities.

A Centre of Excellence will be established, the first of its kind in Indonesia, to initially address the air surveillance requirements contributing airspace protection and the Indonesian Air Force’s capabilities.

However, a more ambitious picture is envisaged in which this joint venture will serve as an agile platform able to expand to various other topics in the future, including C4ISR, military satellites, electronic warfare, national data links, and national combat managment systems.

Thales will bring its deep expertise in radar technology through a transfer of knowledge. The venture will also cover command and control activities and the co-development of a national Air Operations Centre. Associated services, including Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul activities, will be carried out at PT Len’s site in Subang. ​

The objective of building an indigenous defence industry is on the rise across the so-called ‘Global South’ – nations of the world with historically low industrial output compared with the industrially prosperous northern hemisphere. India is a key example for cultivating such an ecosystem.

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During an government-industry meeting in February 2024, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) issued 23 licensing agreements for transfer of technology to 22 indigenous small to medium sized enterprises.

After which, one representative noted that the recent success of DRDO products have not only made the country more self-reliant in military technology but also provided immense opportunities to the industries in defence manufacturing sector.

In addition, guided by a bilateral collaboration agenda, the US approached India to build closer defence industrial ties in June 2023. Since then the two nations have shared knowledge and technology across government, industry and academia to advance their respective defence industries.

As supply chains and geopolitical security become more uncertain, nations such as India and Indonesia have an unprecedented opportunity to adapt their defence industrial capabilities to meet the new global demand for defence products.