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Indonesia to receive KF-21 prototype no 5 if payments completed

Indonesia has resumed cost-sharing payments for its involvement in the KAI KF-21 fighter aircraft programme. (DAPA)

The South Korean government has confirmed that it will transfer a Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KF-21 Boramae fighter aircraft prototype to Indonesia, provided Jakarta fulfils its financial obligations to the project.

Speaking to Janes, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) said that the single-seat “KF-21 prototype no 5 will be transferred to Indonesia” as part of the joint engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) agreement signed by both countries.

Under the conditions of the joint KF-21 development project, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI, Indonesian-aircraft Industries) was to receive one prototype of the aircraft for testing and research.

Seoul's confirmation quashes speculation that South Korea would retain the fifth prototype in the country. The fifth prototype, which is being produced at KAI's Sacheon factory, was notably missing its Indonesian flag during a visit by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on 24 November 2022. All earlier KF-21 prototypes had the Indonesian flag painted alongside the South Korean Taegukgi flag.

This prompted speculation that Indonesia would not receive the aircraft. However, a representative of PTDI told Janes in April 2023 that “Indonesia is still considered a participant in the project and has not been dropped”.

However, DAPA told Janes the transfer of prototype no 5 would take place “under the condition that Indonesia properly carry out its participation as the joint developer, such as the cost-share payment”.

Janes understands that between 2016 and 2019, the Indonesian government made payments of KRW227.2 billion (USD171.5 million) towards the KF-X/IF-X (KF-21) programme. However, by 2021 its outstanding payments had risen to KRW600 billion. On 3 November 2022, Janes reported that Indonesia restarted its payments following negotiations in November 2021.

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