Appear Strong When You Are Weak

3,5 min read –

Who said : “to secure peace is to prepare for war” ?

Carl Von Clausewitz, 1832.


Who said: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting » ?

Sun Tzu, 300 or 400 years BC.


As we can see in those quotes, great military strategists hope for peace.

For in theory, the arms race should lead to deterrence and non-violence.

In practice, wars sadly break out.

Let us take a moment here and believe in theory.


The worldwide military expenditure rose to 2.4 trillion USD in 2023, the highest sum ever recorded by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Military budgets have climbed worldwide in an increasingly volatile geopolitical and security landscape.

The five biggest spenders (2023) are :

  1. USA
  2. China
  3. Russia
  4. India
  5. Saudi Arabia

which together accounted for about 60 per cent of world military spending.


The USA is by far the world biggest spender with 916 billion USD in 2023.

China, # 2 in the world , is by far the biggest military spender in Asia, with an estimated 296 billion USD in 2023.

China’s military expenditure has risen consecutively for 29 years, the longest unbroken streak recorded by any country.

China’s growing power and geopolitical tensions fuel an arms buildup in the Asian region.

India ranks fourth globally (behind Russia at 110 billion USD) with 83 billion USD spent in 2023.

In East Asia,

  • Japan’s spending on defense jumped to 50 billion USD in 2023, lending global rank #10, just after France (#9).
  • South Korea, which has been strengthening trilateral ties with the USA and Japan spent 48 billion USD on its military in 2023.

In South East Asia,

  • Singapore has solidified its position as the Southeast Asian nation with the highest military expenditure, investing 12 billion USD in defense, or nearly 3% of its GDP.
  • Indonesia ranks second in military expenditure, allocating 10 billion USD towards defense initiatives.

Indonesia’s substantial investment reflects its role as Asean’s largest nation, with a focus on safeguarding its national security and geopolitical interests.

Despite this second place, Indonesia’s expenditure is only 0,75% of its GDP, one of the lowest in Asean.

In February 2022, Indonesia has purchased 42 Rafale fighter jets produced by French manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

The Rafale jets were delivered in 3 tranches:

  • 6 in September 2022
  • 18 in August 2023
  • 18 in Jan 2024

The Rafale’s versatile multirole capability will bolster Indonesia’s sovereignty and operational independence, reinforcing its position as a major regional power.

Additionally, Indonesian industry stands to gain substantial benefits, not only in the aeronautical sector but also across other dual technologies mastered by Dassault Aviation, Safran Aircraft Engines, and Thales.


In March 2024, Italian group Fincantieri and the Indonesian Ministry of Defence have signed a first of its kind 1.3 billion USD contract, for the supply of two Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Ships.

The Ships will be able to support Indonesia in protecting national interests and contribute to the stability of the delicate Indo-Pacific strategic quadrant.

As part of the transaction, Fincantieri will act as the prime contractor towards the Indonesian Ministry of Defence and will specifically coordinate the other industrial partners, including Leonardo, for the customization of the ships’ combat system and the provision of related logistic services.


Early April 2024, the French Naval Group announced in a press release the order for two Scorpène Evolved-type submarines by Indonesia. The amount of the contract was not disclosed but could be around 2 billion USD.

This order was facilitated by a defense cooperation agreement signed between the French and Indonesian governments in August 2021.

The two Scorpène Evolved submarines will be built by Indonesian company PT PAL, the largest shipbuilder in Indonesia, thanks to a technology transfer operated by Naval Group.

According to Naval Group, the Scorpène Evolved can sail at a speed of 20 knots, at a depth of more than 300 meters.

Indonesia has chosen a high-performance, sea-proven submarine that will strengthen the country’s maritime sovereignty.

In addition to submarines, the strategic partnership with PT PAL will also enable the Indonesian defense industry to actively prepare for the future of naval combat.

If you are interested to watch how the Indonesian military expands its budget and continues its shopping spree, we advise you to join the Indo Defence Expo & Forum 2024.

It happens in Jakarta from 6 to 9 November 2024. Check it at : indodefence(dot)com


Until then, let’s stay safe and remember the wisdom of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu : peace is all we need!


From Jakarta,

With Love & Peace


PS: The title of this article is also a quote from a famous strategist, did you find who? Send us your answer to bonjour@cintasia.com and win an ice-cold Bintang in Jakarta when you come for the Indo Defence Expo & Forum 2024.

Picture : Terracotta Warriors buried army, Xi’an, China, 210 BC.

Sources : Dassault website, Fincantieri website, seasia(dot)com, opex360(dot)com, asiatoday(dot)id, theglobaleconomy(dot)com.