Korea, Indonesia to Go Ahead With KF-21 Fighter Jet Development
Korea and Indonesia agreed Friday to closely cooperate to proceed smoothly with their joint KF-21 fighter jet development project, in a visit to Jakarta by Seoul’s top diplomat.
Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong held talks in Jakarta with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, stressing cooperation in the defense and health sectors and investment in a green economy in particular.
The two sides especially “agreed to closely cooperate to make sure that mutually beneficial, substantive cooperation projects like the KF-21/IF-X project will proceed smoothly,” said Seoul’s Foreign Ministry in a statement, noting that such bilateral cooperation in the defense sector is “symbolic of the special strategic partnership relationship between Korea and Indonesia.”
Indonesia is a stakeholder in the jet's development, dubbed the Korea Fighter Experimental (KF-X) project, having committed to finance 20 percent of its 8.8-trillion-won ($7.8 billion) development cost. The project is referred to as the IF-X program in Indonesia. The Southeast Asian country will eventually receive 50 out of a total 170 jets.
However, Indonesia stopped making payments after investing around 227.2 billion won, leading to speculation on whether the Southeast Asian country remains committed to the project.
Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto visited Korea in April to watch the manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) officially unveil the prototype of Korea's indigenously developed fighter jet, KF-21 Boramae, alongside President Moon Jae-in.
Should the KF-21 successfully complete its test flights, Korea would become the eighth country in the world to develop a supersonic fighter jet. The first test flight is expected to take place next year.
Korea also plans to offer Indonesia $4 million worth of items, including Covid-19 diagnostic kits, this year, said Chung.
Chung described Indonesia a "core" partner of the Moon administration’s New Southern Policy aimed at strengthening economic ties with Asean countries.
Later that day, Chung paid a courtesy call on Indonesian President Joko Widodo at his presidential palace and said that the two countries' relations have been at their “best” in recent years and “based on deep trust and friendship,” according to the Foreign Ministry.
President Moon Jae-in visited Indonesia in November 2017.
Chung likewise conveyed to Widodo that advancements in cooperation between the two countries in the defense sector is “based on deep trust between the two countries,” stressing that he hopes mutually beneficial projects such as the KF-21 joint fighter jet development program and Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering’s project to build a second submarine for the Indonesian Navy will be “successfully implemented.”
Korea is one of Indonesia’s “most important relationships,” Widodo told Chung, who added, “I am very satisfied with the investment from Korea, which I believe would be helpful to both countries.”
He noted that Indonesia has worked to improve its investment environment, including through the passing of the Omnibus Law last November, which eased some foreign investment restrictions.
Widodo especially conveyed his satisfaction with Korea's investment in the electric vehicle (EV) industry in Indonesia. He also noted Korea has also invested in the country’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors.
Stressing the importance Indonesia places on cooperation in investment in green economy, he said, “In particular, I highly appreciate the expansion of investment by Korean companies to create an electric vehicle ecosystem.”
Chung in turn requested the Indonesian government to “continue to show interest and support the activities of Korean companies that have entered the country,” namely in the EV production and battery sectors.
Indonesia aims to become carbon-neutral by 2060 and plans to sell only electric vehicles for all new cars from 2050.
Hyundai Motor and LG Energy Solution are planning a joint venture to build Southeast Asia’s first electric vehicle battery plant in Indonesia. Hyundai Motor is building a finished car manufacturing factory in Bekasi, near Jakarta.
Indonesia holds around a quarter of the world’s nickel resources, an important component to produce lithium-ion batteries, and has eyes on becoming a global EV battery production hub.