ADEX 2019: Indonesia committed to KF-X project despite fiscal concerns

15 October 2019

An artist impression of the KF-X fighter aircraft. South Korea is developing the platform in partnership with Indonesia, although the latter has fallen behind on payments. Source: DAPA

More than 100 engineers from Indonesian aerospace company PT Dirgantara (PTDI) remain involved in the project with South Korea to develop the next-generation Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) fighter aircraft despite growing concern about the Southeast Asian country's financial involvement in the programme.

Industry officials told Jane's at the 2019 Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) that ties between PTDI at Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), which is leading the KF-X programme, remain strong even if the South Korean and Indonesian governments have yet to reach an agreement on how - and how much - Jakarta will pay towards the development project.

"We have 114 engineers working on the KF-X in Korea," said one official from KAI. "They are mainly working on the design of the aircraft but also on manufacturing processes." PTDI told Jane's that its engineers' involvement in the programme is intended to support the company's long-term development and its ability to apply acquired skills across a range of platforms.

Industry officials would not comment directly on government-level talks intended to enable Jakarta to fund its involvement in the programme, which it refers to as IF-X. These talks started in October 2018 after Indonesia said that due to a lack of funding it wanted to renegotiate the financial arrangements that were agreed in 2015. Renegotiations were initially expected to be concluded within 12 months but have yet to be finalised.

Under the original KF-X finance agreement Indonesia is committed to pay for 20% of the total development costs of the aircraft, which are estimated at about USD8 billion. The South Korean government is committed to pay for 60% of costs, with KAI covering the remaining 20%.

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