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Indonesia, South Korea Reach Agreement on KF-21/IF-X Payment

Yulian Ardiansyah - : Nov 12, 2021 - : 7:35 am

South Korea and Indonesia on Thursday concluded talks to solve the late payment from the Indonesian side in the KF-21/IF-X joint jet fighter project between the two nations.

According to an official statement from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) of South Korea, Indonesia will “…make payments over the next five years until 2026, and thirty percent of that would be in-kind transfers.”

DAPA also stated that Indonesia and South Korea would discuss later the Indonesian commodities that will be used for the in-kind transfers, with one source in the agency commenting that they could include Indonesian natural resources.

The KF-21 Boramae (Fighting Hawk) project, formerly known as KF-X or Korea Fighter Experimental, was first initiated in South Korea in 2001. After a series of meetings with Indonesian officials in 2010, it was then agreed that Indonesia would join the project to eventually create its own version called IF-X (Indonesia Fighter Experimental). It was also agreed that Indonesia would shoulder 20% of the development cost (about US$6,7 billion). Indonesia is yet to pay the development cost.

There were rumors that financial trouble would force Indonesia to drop out of the project, but those doubts were laid to rest at the official launching of the first KF-21 prototype in April this year. The Indonesian Minister of Defense was invited to the event and the country reaffirmed its commitment to the project by sending 32 Indonesian engineers back to South Korea in August.

The 32 engineers are among the 100 Indonesian engineers who were previously working on the project in South Korea before they had to be sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the engineers will return to South Korea to resume working on the IF-X prototype in December this year.

Following the planned KF-21 first flight next year, Indonesia will also receive an IF-X prototype that will be developed further in Indonesia.

The KF-21 Boramae is the 4.5th generation jet fighter designed with low-observability features. While it is not a fully “stealth” aircraft in its current iteration due to the exclusion of internal weapon bays, it is likely to be developed further into a proper 5th generation stealth fighter jet.

Further development of the Indonesian version, unofficially known as “F-33”, will take a separate path since it will be carried out by the PTDI, the Indonesian state-owned aerospace company. It’s not yet known whether future Indonesian versions will also become the 5th generation fighter or otherwise.

As many as 120 KF-21 for South Korea and 48 “F-33” for Indonesia will be produced as part of the project.


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