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Scandal Unfolds: Indonesian Engineers Accused of Attempting to Steal KF-21 Fighter Jet Technology

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

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — South Korean authorities have initiated an investigation into two Indonesian engineers suspected of attempting to steal technology related to the KF-21 “Boramae” fighter jet currently under development.

This matter was disclosed by the South Korean weapon acquisition agency, Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

According to DAPA, both Indonesian engineers were assigned to the KF-21 fighter jet development program and worked at the facilities owned by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the sole aircraft manufacturer in South Korea.

DAPA suspects that the Indonesian engineers attempted to store secret data about the KF-21 fighter jet project on a USB drive.

The engineers have been prohibited from leaving South Korea while the investigation is underway.

KF-21
KF-21 “Boramae” launching the long-range air-to-air guided missile “METEOR.”

 

 A joint investigation by relevant agencies, including the South Korean National Intelligence Service, is currently ongoing to ascertain the details of Indonesia’s alleged technology theft, as stated by a DAPA official to a local South Korean media.

The DAPA official mentioned that the focus of the investigation is to identify specific documents that the Indonesian engineers attempted to steal.

The USB drive, according to the official, contained general documents unrelated to strategic technology that may violate laws concerning military secrets or defense technology.

Another source quoted from a defense portal stated that the investigation is examining whether the stored data contains strategic technologies related to the KF-21 “Boramae” 4.5 generation fighter jet.

Furthermore, South Korean authorities are also investigating whether the two Indonesian engineers received assistance from insiders, enabling them to “steal” strategic technologies related to the KF-21 fighter jet, as alleged.

In October of the previous year, the head of DAPA reportedly proposed that Indonesia be dropped from the 4.5 generation KF-21 “Boramae” fighter jet development program.

KF-21
KF-21 “Boramae”

 

The primary reason for this recommendation was Jakarta’s persistent failure to meet the agreed-upon development costs for the aircraft, as outlined in the initial agreement between the two countries.

In a separate statement to another news portal, the head of DAPA indicated that the cooperation between South Korea and Indonesia was not progressing well, despite efforts to continue the collaboration.

He mentioned that Indonesia had failed to pay a total of 991.1 billion Won (US$730 million) for the fighter jet development program.

Since joining the program, Indonesia has only been able to make partial payments, falling significantly short of its obligations according to the initial agreement.

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

Jakarta also intends to acquire a total of 50 of these 4.5 generation fighter jets.

 Indonesia and South Korea signed an agreement in 2010 to collaborate on the fighter jet development program, with Jakarta slated 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 cooperative partner in the KF-21 fighter jet program, Jakarta agreed to cover 20 percent of the total development costs.

The estimated total cost of developing the advanced fighter jet is 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 jet development program was in 2017, approximately five years ago.

As of now, Indonesia is said to owe 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 jet program, citing the country’s financial problems as the primary reason.

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

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

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

To contact email: lulwabyadah@gmail.com 

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