"The Defence Ministry and the National Armed Forces Headquarters, particularly the Navy, will definitely handle this matter," ministry spokesperson Dahnil Simanjuntak said here on Monday.
He then appealed to the public to avoid engaging in a counter-productive polemic on issues related to the drone's discovery.
The Indonesian Navy has confirmed that the underwater drone recently found near Selayar Island is a "sea glider" that could be used for oceanographic data surveys, Simanjuntak said.
The Navy's hydrographic and oceanographic center will analyze it further, he said, adding that Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto has, from the beginning, been committed to strengthening Indonesia's defence capabilities.
The underwater drone, which has triggered a public debate in the country over the past two weeks, was reportedly found by Saeruddin, a resident of Majapahit village in Pasimarannu sub-district, Selayar Islands district, South Sulawesi province, on December 20, 2020.
After keeping it at his home for a week, the 60-year-old fisherman handed it over to the local military authorities.
The discovery of an underwater drone that can be used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, deep water survey, and inspection-related purposes has come under the spotlight of Indonesian and international media outlets.
Saeruddin was quoted by Detik.com as saying that he found the 175-kg drone floating at sea while he was fishing near Selayar Island.
The drone was found to be equipped with two cameras and a light that was still active. Saeruddin told the media the drone’s light was still blinking when he secured it.
The local military authorities handed over the underwater object to the Indonesian Navy for investigation.
Pictures from the discovery indicate the underwater drone resembles the Chinese Sea Wing family of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs).
This type of drone is also known as an underwater glider. Using variable-buoyancy propulsion and aided by a pair of wings, such a drone can cruise along the sea, gathering data on the surrounding ocean environment.
The Sea Wing family of UUVs along with their western equivalents, such as the American LBS-G, can have dual civilian and military purposes. Typically, these drones gather oceanographic data ranging from sea water temperature, turbidity, and salinity, to chlorophyll and oxygen levels.
While this type of data can be useful for scientific purposes, it can also be valuable to naval planners to support fleet positioning and naval maneuvers, observers said.
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