Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kalla expects RI to benefit from world defense expo

The country's largest defense exhibition kicked off Wednesday, with officials expecting the event to boost the national arms industry.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said upon opening the 2008 Indo Defense and Indo Aerospace Expo and Forum at Halim Perdanakusuma airport in East Jakarta the biennial event was key to strengthening international cooperation for developing defense technology.

"The defense sector is very much related to technology and the fast pace of technological development in the world," he said.

"It is important for us to follow and understand each countries' developments."

Also attending the opening ceremony were Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adi Sucipto, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono, Industry Minister Fahmi Idris, Indonesia Military (TNI) chief Gen. Djoko Santoso and dozens of Indonesian and foreign military delegates.

Juwono said the exhibition evidenced the resurrection of the national defense industry.

"The exhibition is expected to serve as a driving force behind the development of our defense industry," he said.

The Indonesian Military remains largely dependent on foreign weapons suppliers, although the national defense industry has posted increased growth of late.

Enlivening the event's opening ceremony was an air display involving three Indonesian Air Force F-5E Tiger jet fighters, which performed a low pass and a high risk "bomb burst" maneuver.

There was also a demonstration of Indonesian armored personnel carriers (APC) manufactured by state arms maker PT Pindad.

The government has pledged to buy 150 units of the 6X6 APC medium personnel transport.

Kalla expressed interest in some foreign-made aeronautical and naval hardware while touring the exhibition's makeshift halls, which have been built onto the apron of the main airport building.

The Vice President also visited the pavilions of several state-owned strategic industries, including PT Pindad's and ship builder PT PAL's, which are exhibiting their latest products.

Later in the afternoon, Juwono received a number of courtesy calls from various delegations, including deputy defense ministers from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and South Africa; the Timor Leste defense secretary and a number of foreign military officials, including from Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

The biennial event traditionally takes place at Kemayoran Fairground, before moving to the airport for the aerospace expo, which was introduced last year.

The maiden and second expos, held in 2004 and 2006, only featured the Indo Defense Expo and Forum.

A seminar themed "Defense Technology Capabilities and Improving the Role of National Air Transportation" will be held Thursday.

The seminar, which will be held at the Persada Executive Club in Halim, is scheduled to be opened by TNI chief Gen. Djoko Santoso. Juwono. Transportation Minister Djusman Syafii Djamal will present the keynote speech at the discussion.

The expo will open to the public Saturday, with an entry fee of Rp 100,000 (US$8.33)

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