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Indonesia looks to restart work on KF-21 project

Aerospace engineers from Indonesia could soon return to South Korea to recommence work on the development of the KF-21 fighter aircraft, Janes understands.

More than 140 Indonesian personnel returned home in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic but their return to South Korea could soon be facilitated through government-level talks between the two countries, official sources confirmed to Janes.

However, a stumbling block to co-operation could be funding and the scope to which Indonesia agrees to support the KF-21 development programme (also named KF-X) going forward.

Indonesia has recently reaffirmed its commitment to the programme and talks on its repayments are scheduled to start in the next two months.

Since Indonesian engineers left South Korea, prime contractor Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has undertaken development of the KF-21 prototype on its own and officially unveiled the platform earlier this month.

In a hearing of the South Korean National Assembly's National Defense Commission on 28 April, the country’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) indicated that KAI engineers would be expected to provide assistance to their Indonesian counterparts upon their return.

This followed defence ministerial talks between the two sides in early April in which Indonesia said it was committed to the programme, despite falling behind on repayments.

“Indonesia [has] welcomed proposals made by South Korea to boost the two countries’ defense co-operation and expressed hope for South Korea’s support to help Indonesian officials catch up with the technology gap in the KF-21/IF-X joint development project,” the MND said in a report to the National Defense Commission, according to a news report by Yonhap.

Indonesia’s funding for the programme will also be the subject of talks soon, the National Defense Commission was told.

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