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UAE Set To Replace Indonesia In South Korea’s KF-21 “Boramae” Program?

Indonesia's failure to fulfill its promise to pay 20 percent of the development cost of the fighter aircraft is the primary factor behind the possibility of UAE taking its place.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is reportedly poised to replace Indonesia as a partner in the development program of the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft being developed by South Korea and its defense industry.

Indonesia’s failure to fulfill its promise to pay 20 percent of the development cost of the fighter aircraft is the primary factor behind the possibility of UAE taking its place.

South Korean newspaper, The Financial News, reported that the South Korean National Security Office has received a letter from the UAE’s Tawazun Economic Council expressing its interest in directly participating in the program.

The newspaper suggests that UAE is likely to replace Indonesia’s role in the fighter aircraft development program.

Indonesia holds a 20 percent stake in the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft development program but has failed to fully pay its share.

KF-21
KF-21 “Boramae”

 

Jakarta also intends to acquire a total of 50 KF-21.

UAE has shown strong interest in joining the advanced fighter aircraft development program with South Korea after canceling its plan to purchase fifth-generation fighter aircraft from the United States, the F-35, last year.

The Gulf state was supposed to acquire 50 F-35 aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin but did not agree to the “conditions” imposed by Washington, which wanted it to sever its ties with the Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei.

After canceling the purchase of the F-35, UAE has spent $19 billion (RM85.5 billion) to acquire Rafale fighter aircraft from France.

Defense cooperation between UAE and South Korea has grown closer after the Gulf nation spent $3.5 billion (RM15.7 billion) to acquire the KM-SAM Block II medium-range air defense system developed by LIG Nex1 (Cheongung).

KF-21

 As of July 2022, Jakarta is said to still owe South Korea $557 million (RM2.59 billion) in outstanding payments for the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft development program. However,

Meanwhile, the Financial News of South Korea states that the actual amount owed by Indonesia for the program is higher, totaling $745 billion (RM3.35 billion).

Last July, South Korea’s defense procurement agency, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), claimed that Indonesia had failed to inform South Korea of a new payment schedule for the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter aircraft development program.

This raised questions about Southeast Asia’s commitment to the program.

A spokesperson for DAPA stated that as a program cooperation partner, Indonesia should have provided the payment schedule, but it has so far failed to do so.

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

KM-SAM
“KM-SAM” medium-range air defence system.

 

As a program cooperation partner for the KF-21 fighter aircraft development program, Jakarta agreed to pay 20 percent of the total estimated development cost of $6.67 billion (RM26.7 billion).

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.

 However, a report by the defense portal Janes a few months ago indicated that Indonesia had started making payments again after a three-year hiatus.

The portal stated that on November 1st of last year, Indonesia made a payment of $6.63 million (RM26.52 million). — DSA

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