Following the Natuna standoff with China back in January this year (in which dozens of Chinese vessels were fishing in Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone), Indonesia recognizes the lack of oceangoing vessels for TNI-AL and BAKAMLA (the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency). As a consequence, plans were mooted for the procurement of large displacement vessels based on Danish designs. Local media makes mention of this, quoting a Defense Minister statement made as early as January 17.
In February, an Indonesian defense delegation visited Denmark and toured the Danish Navy Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate Niels Juel. The delegation was briefed by Odense Maritime Technology (OMT) and Naval Team Denmark. Pictures of the visit were shared on social media by the Indonesian Embassy in Denmark.
Lastly, according to local media, the deputy minister of defense said in March that Indonesia’s PT PAL was tasked to develop a design for 2 ships over 5 years, for Rp1.1 trillion (or USD720 million) in collaboration with Denmark, for TNI-AL.
Contacted by Naval News for comment, Naval Team Denmark’s Managing Director and former Chief of the Danish Navy, said:
Naval Team Denmark can confirm that Indonesia – amongst other nations – have shown interest for the Danish Iver Huitfeldt frigates. However, I am not able to comment on your specific questions.
Rear Admiral (ret.) Nils Wang
We also reached out to Collin Koh, research fellow at the Maritime Security Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore:
Naval News – Collin, how would two large frigate be enough to deter China in the SCS ? Wouldn’t the procurement of smaller vessels (like additional PKR or even Ocean Going OPVs) be more usefull because for the same budget Indonesia would get more hulls ?
Collin Koh – Two large frigates aren’t enough to cover the Natuna waters, where Chinese incursions are observed to take place often. At best, at any point of time, 1 out of the pair of these new frigates would be on station, albeit for a finite period of time and provided proper maintenance, repairs and overhaul schedules are adhered to. Of course, with the same budget, more but smaller OPVs could be acquired. However, I would surmise a few reasons behind the quest for the Iver Huitfeldt class. The first is that the Indonesians are looking at a larger major surface combatant beyond the PKR that is based on the SIGMA class, which is classified a light frigate. The second is the unique mission modular concept offered for the Danish design, which the Indonesians could be interested in adapting for future warships. It would appear that the Indonesians are keen on commonalities between the navy and BAKAMLA, which could be made possible with a robust modular concept. The third, which I believe needs to be seriously looked into, is whether the Indonesians could have been not so satisfied with the PKR programme, and whether this has to do with the local shipbuilders’ relationship with Damen. Again, this point needs to be explored.
Naval News – The Iver Huitfeldt is quite a more complex (and larger) ship compared to the PKR. Do you trust that local shipyard PT Pal would have no issues building those ships locally ?
Collin Koh – And to add that the Iver Huitfeldt is larger as well, and represents a wholly new design that PT PAL has to deal with. With proper tech transfer under the guidance of their Danish counterparts, and of course with Jakarta’s commitment to the programme, it’s possible for PT PAL to overcome initial problems of the learning curve and gradually become able to build the ships indigenously. We can take example from PT PAL’s collaboration with DSME on license construction of submarines. There were initial hiccups, especially over tech transfer, but these were later overcome and the Indonesians eventually managed to construct the third Nagapasa-class submarine, and became Southeast Asia’s first country to build submarines locally.
For the record, Iver Huitfeldt-class is the parent design for the future Type 31 frigate of the Royal Navy. A variant of the class was also being proposed for Singapore’s MRCV requirement. The Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates of the Danish Navy have conducted several Carrier Strike Group deployments.
About Iver Huitfeld-class
The Iver Huitfeldt-class is a 138 meters long anti-air warfare frigates of 6600 tonnes displacement, built by Odense Staalskibsvaerft for the Royal Danish Navy. Three have been built and all of them were commissionned in 2011.
The hull design of the Iver Huitfeldt-class is derived from the Absalon-class. The 32-cell Mk. 41 vertical missile launcher and 4 Standard Flex container positions amidships makes this platform a highly capable AAW frigate. The armament further includes two 76 mm OTO Melara guns forward and one 35 mm CIWS (Millennium) gun aft. They can carry an MH-60 helicopter.
The Standard Flex concept is a combination of standard platforms and different exchangeable weapon and system modules to match different missions or roles. Sensors and systems common to all roles are permanently fitted. As a truly “plug and play” concept it offers unique operational flexibility and exceptional lifelong logistic and financial advantages.
- Displacement: 6 600 tonnes (full load)
- Length: 138m
- Beam: 19.75m
- Draft: 5.3m
- Propulsion: 4 MTU 8000 20V M70 diesel engines. 2 shafts, CODAD
- Speed: 28 knots
- Range: 9 000 nautical miles @15 knots
- Crew: 117 (total accommodation 165)
- Weapons: 4 × Mk 41 VLS with up to 32 SM-2 IIIA surface-to-air missiles ; 2 × Mk 56 VLS with up to 24 RIM-162 ESSM ; Harpoon block SSM; 1 × 35mm CIWS ; 2× OTO Melara 76 mm; 2 × dual MU90 Impact ASW torpedo launchers