Klewang class 63m Stealth Fast Missile Patrol Vessel (photo : NorthSeaBoats)
(IMP) -- The chief of the Indonesian Navy (Tentera Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut, or TNI-AL) has confirmed that the Klewang-class stealth patrol ship programme has resumed and that the service will operate a class of at least four vessels.
Admiral Marsetio, chief of staff of the TNI-AL, confirmed the plans in an interview with IHS Jane's at the Indonesian Armed Forces headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on 14 August.
The stealth trimaran programme was suspended after first-of-class KRI Klewang was gutted by fire and damaged beyond repair at a naval port in Banyuwangi, East Java, weeks after its official launch on 31 August 2012. The vessel was still undergoing sea trials. There were no casualties in that incident but Indonesia's defence ministry suspended the programme indefinitely pending further investigations into the cause of the fire.
The Indonesian government has not released the results of the investigation into the fire but IHS Jane's understands that a new hull material, described by Saab as a "nanocomposite compound" that is stronger and stealthier, was chosen partly to mitigate the effects of similar calamities in the future.
Besides the four confirmed boats, Adm Marsetio also indicated that the navy might consider more vessels in the near future if options presented by the shipbuilders are attractive enough. "We could be looking at a class of between 6 to 20 vessels by 2024", he said. "The final number will depend on factors such as acquisition costs and offset conditions presented by shipbuilders, but for now we are looking at a class of four ships."
Peter Carlqvist, head of Saab Indonesia, confirmed to IHS Jane's on 15 August the number of vessels to be built but indicated that a contract has only been established for one ship. "We are hopeful that the contract for the other three ships will materialise very soon", said Carlqvist, who added that Saab is now the prime contractor for the programme and has received full financing from the Swedish government to fulfil the order for the four vessels. However the current vessel being built is produced in collaboration with Indonesian shipbuilder PT Lundin at its facility in Banyuwangi, East Java.
The 63 m Klewang-class features a wave-piercing trimaran design that allows the vessel to cut through waves and incorporates stealth features such as reduced acoustic, infrared, and magnetic signatures. The patrol craft is propelled by four MJP 550 water jets and can reach cruise and sprint speeds of 16 kt and 35 kt respectively.
The boats will be armed with four RBS15 Mk3 surface-to-surface missiles with active radar homing of up to 200 km and feature Saab's new Sea Giraffe 1X 3D compact radar, which will be mounted higher on the vessel's mast to increase coverage. The vessel's weapons and radar will be managed via Saab's 9LV Mk4 series combat management system (CMS), which incorporates the company's CEROS 200 air defence fire-control director.
Carlqvist also provided design updates, which include the integration of a Bofors 40 Mk4 (BAE Systems 40 mm Mk4) naval gun under a stealth cupola and a Saab electronic support measure (ESM) system that can intercept and identify the positions of mobile phone signals and radio calls.
"These will be very useful in counter piracy and illegal fishing missions where phone signals can be used as a target locator", said Carlqvist.
When asked of his opinion on the TNI-AL's consideration of operating up to 20 such vessels, Carlqvist said that the figure seems reasonable given that the Indonesian Navy has plans to increase its fleet by up to 200 ships by 2024. "Some of these might include the Klewang-class given its suitability for the archipelagic nature of Indonesia's maritime territories", he said.
The first Klewang-class vessel is expected to enter service by 2016.