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KF-21 ‘Boramae’ Fighter Aircraft Blueprints Found in Indonesian Engineers’ USB Drive?

According to an exclusive report by South Korean media outlet "JoongAng Ilbo," among the sensitive information on the USB owned by the Indonesian engineers are blueprints of the KF-21 fighter aircraft that they should not have had access to.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — South Korean authorities have expanded their investigation into the alleged theft of classified information regarding the technology of the 4.5-generation fighter aircraft KF-21 “Boramae” by two Indonesian engineers.

 In addition to raiding the headquarters of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the company developing the modern fighter aircraft, South Korean police and enforcement agencies have summoned more individuals to assist in their investigation into the theft allegations.

The increase in the number of suspects in the theft case aligns with South Korean authorities’ efforts to broaden their probe in search of the masterminds responsible for the theft of sensitive information.

The two Indonesian engineers suspected of involvement in the theft case have been prohibited from leaving South Korea.

According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), both engineers were assigned to the KF-21 fighter aircraft development program and worked at KAI’s facilities, the sole aircraft manufacturer in South Korea.

KF-21
KF-21 “Boramae”

 

The investigation is being carried out jointly by DAPA, the police, and South Korean intelligence agencies.

According to DAPA, the implicated Indonesian engineers are suspected of possessing approximately 4,000 to 6,000 pieces of confidential data related to the KF-21 fighter aircraft project stored on a USB drive.

What information is contained on the USB belonging to the Indonesian engineers?

According to an exclusive report by South Korean media outlet “JoongAng Ilbo,” among the sensitive information on the USB owned by the Indonesian engineers are blueprints of the KF-21 fighter aircraft that they should not have had access to.

Additionally, the USB also contains 3D modeling programs for the KF-21 fighter aircraft.

South Korean investigators are expected to conduct forensic examinations to determine how the sensitive information was uploaded to the USB.

KF-21
KF-21 “Boramae”

 

The investigation and allegations against the two Indonesian engineers involved in the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft development program come at a time when Jakarta is accused of failing to explain the rightful payments owed for the fighter aircraft program.

Indonesia has failed to pay a total of 991.1 billion Won (US$730 million) for the development program.

Since joining the development program, Indonesia has only paid a small fraction of what it was supposed to according to the initial agreement.

Indonesia holds a 20 percent stake in the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft development program but has failed to fulfill its financial obligations since 2017.

 Jakarta also intends to acquire a total of 50 units of the 4.5-generation fighter aircraft.

Indonesia and South Korea signed an agreement in 2010 to collaborate on the development of the fighter aircraft program, with Jakarta set to receive the fifth prototype of the KF-21 aircraft.

KF-21
The KF-21 aircraft launches the air-to-air missile IRIS-T.

 

As a partner in the KF-21 fighter aircraft development program, Jakarta agreed to pay 20 percent of the total development costs.

The overall cost of developing the advanced fighter aircraft is estimated at US$6.67 billion (RM26.7 billion), with Indonesia’s share being 20 percent.

According to DAPA, the last time Indonesia made a payment for its participation in the KF-21 fighter aircraft development program was in 2017, approximately five years ago.

 To date, Indonesia is said to have failed to make payments totaling US$671 million (RM2.7 billion) out of the total payment of US$1.3 billion (RM5.3 billion) as a development partner in the fighter aircraft program, citing financial issues within the country as the primary reason.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has developed six prototype KF-21 aircraft, which will undergo 2,200 test flights until 2026 to further validate its technical capabilities.

FA-50
RMAF chief with KF-21 “Boramae” (TUDM)

 

 Launched in 2015, the KF-21 aircraft development program is estimated to cost US$6.67 billion (RM26.7 billion) and aims to replace aging supersonic fighter aircraft of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) such as the F-4 Phantom and F-5.

KAI plans to supply 40 Block 1 KF-21 aircraft designed for air-to-air missions starting in 2026, followed by 80 Block 2 aircraft for air-to-ground missions. — DSA

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