Indonesia is a country that boasts a rich history and diverse culture, but it has also made significant progress in its military capabilities. In this article, we will take a closer look at the best of Indonesia’s battle tanks that make up the backbone of Indonesia’s armoured forces. Each of these tanks has its own unique features and capabilities, reflecting Indonesia’s diverse defence needs and strategic considerations.
Indonesia’s Battle Tanks
The Leopard 2A4, a main battle tank, was designed and produced by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, a German company. It was the first vehicle in the Leopard 2 family and featured a vertically faced turret armour. The tank was powered by a V12 twin-turbo diesel engine from MTU Friedrichshafen and had a 120 mm smoothbore cannon made by Rheinmetall. In May 2016, the Indonesian Army received the first eight of 61 Leopard 2A4 tanks as part of a larger defence deal with Germany. The deal included 103 Leopard MBTs, 42 upgraded Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles, and ten armoured recovery, mobile bridges, and military engineering vehicles from surplus German Army stocks. The Indonesian government paid US$280 million for 153 armoured vehicles, consisting of 41 Leopard 2A4 MBTs, 61 Leopard 2 RI MBTs, and 50 Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles. The Leopard 2A4 tanks were equipped with air conditioning systems mounted on the bustle to suit Indonesia’s tropical climate. The deal also involved the transfer of undisclosed technologies to Indonesian state-owned land systems specialist PT Pindad and the TNI-AD’s Ordnance Depot and Signal Corps. In May 2014, Rheinmetall was awarded a contract to provide the Indonesian military with a driving and gunnery simulator, Leopard Gunnery Skills Trainer (LGST) and Driver Training Simulator (DTS), to train TNI-AD tank crews for the new MBTs.
The Leopard 2RI, also referred to as the Revolution tank, is an enhanced variant of the Leopard 2A4 main battle tank. Developed in collaboration between FNSS Defence Systems, a Turkish arms manufacturer, and PT Pindad, an Indonesian state-owned weapons supplier, the Leopard 2RI was first delivered to the Indonesian Army in 2016. As part of a larger defence agreement between Indonesia and Germany, the initial batch consisted of 61 Revolution tanks, designated as Leopard 2RI. This agreement also included 103 Leopard MBTs, 42 upgraded Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles, and ten surplus German Army vehicles for armoured recovery, mobile bridges, and military engineering purposes. The Leopard 2RI is specifically designed to excel in urban combat conditions and low intensity conflicts. It has undergone a comprehensive armour upgrade to provide enhanced protection against RPG or IED attacks. The tank is equipped with AMAP protective armour, also known as Advanced Modular Armor Protection, which utilizes cutting-edge nano-ceramic, titanium, and steel alloys. This advanced armour offers superior defence against various threats and can be easily replaced or switched in any battlefield scenario. Additionally, the Leopard 2RI is equipped with new Rheinmetall ROSY smoke grenade dischargers, enabling it to create a smoke screen for camouflage within a mere 0.6 seconds. The tank is also equipped with a mine protection package. Despite a slight increase in weight due to the upgraded armour package, the Leopard 2RI still maintains its manoeuvrability. This tank represents a significant advancement in armoured warfare capabilities.
The Harimau, also referred to as the Kaplan MT Harimau, is a contemporary medium weight tank that was developed by FNSS Defence Systems, a Turkish arms manufacturer, in collaboration with PT Pindad, an Indonesian state-owned weapons supplier. The development of this tank, known as the Modern Medium Weight Tank (MMWT), commenced in 2015 through an agreement between the governments of Indonesia and Turkey. In 2016, the first prototype was unveiled, and by 2018, the tank successfully passed the required qualification tests for the Indonesian Army. The Harimau is specifically designed for urban combat and low intensity conflicts, boasting modular armour that can be swiftly replaced in battlefield conditions. It is equipped with a turret manufactured by CMI Defence, a Belgian company, which features a 105 mm rifled barrel. Initially, it was anticipated that the first batch of 20 to 25 tanks would be ordered by late 2018, and the total production of tanks was estimated to range between 200 and 400. The mass production of the MMWT commenced in 2020, and it is expected that the Indonesian Army will receive its first serial production Kaplan MT Harimau modern medium weight tank by the end of 2022.
The FV101 Scorpion, a British armoured reconnaissance vehicle, also functioned as a light tank. It served as the primary vehicle and fire support type in the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked), CVR (T), family of seven armoured vehicles. Manufactured by Alvis, the Scorpion was introduced into service with the British Army in 1973 and later withdrawn in 1994. Notably, it holds the Guinness world record for the fastest production tank, achieving a speed of 82.23 km/h at the QinetiQ vehicle test track in Surrey on January 26, 2002. Additionally, Indonesia acquired the FV101 Scorpion in 1995 and 1996, and it has been utilized by the armed forces of various countries, including Indonesia.
The AMX-13/75 Modèle 51, a French light tank, was fitted with a 75 mm SA 50 L/61 gun in an FL-10 turret. It belonged to the AMX-13 family of light tanks, which were manufactured from 1952 to 1987. In 1946, the tank was designed at the Atelier de Construction d’Issy-les-Moulineaux (AMX) to fulfil the need for an air-portable vehicle to assist paratroopers. The compact chassis featured torsion bar suspension with five road-wheels and two return rollers. Notably, it showcased a unique two-part FL-10 oscillating turret, where the gun remained fixed to the turret while the entire upper turret adjusted its elevation. During the 1960s, Indonesia acquired the AMX-13/75 Modèle 51. However, as of 2018, Janes reported that only around half of the fleet (120+) remained operational, with the remaining tanks being upgraded and retrofitted by PT Pindad with a new fire control system and a 105mm rifled gun. Eventually, the Harimau Medium Tank/Kaplan MT will replace the AMX-13/75 Modèle 51.