Korea Aerospace Industries KF-21 Boramae Fighter Jet
Korea Aerospace Industries KF-21 Boramae Fighter Jet

Indonesia and South Korea Bridge Cost Differences for KF-21 Fighter’s Development Costs

The Indonesian Ministry of Defence has reaffirmed its commitment to funding 20% of development costs for the KF-21/IF-X multirole fighter aircraft, with about 30% of its contribution set to be paid in kind, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 11 November. Indonesia made the pledge during this week’s negotiations in Jakarta with South Korea officials, as the country’s overdue payments for the project, which stand at 800 billion won, had reinforced a sense that the Southeast Asian country might no longer be interested in the development efforts.

DAPA officials did not specify when and how Indonesia would address the overdue payments, but stressed its reiteration of a will to stay in the project was a “major” outcome of the latest negotiations. Indonesia first agreed to pay 20 percent of the development cost in 2010. Under the original agreement – signed in 2016 – Indonesia committed to pay for 20% of the total development costs of the KF-21/IF-X project – valued at KRW 8.8 trillion (USD7.5 billion) – through to 2028 But it stopped making payments in 2017, casting doubts over whether it would continue to stay onboard.

A photo after signing an agreement regarding cost sharing for a joint fighter development project in Jakarta on Nov. 11, 2021

The KAI KF-21 Boramae (formerly known as KF-X) is a joint South Korean/Indonesian 4.5 generation fighter aircraft development program with the goal of producing an advanced multirole fighter for the South Korean and Indonesian air forces. The initial goal for the program was to develop a single-seat twin-engine multirole fighter with stealth capabilities exceeding both the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon but less than those of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The KAI KF-X is South Korea’s second domestic fighter jet development program, following the FA-50.

In April 2021, the first prototype was completed and unveiled during a rollout ceremony at the headquarters of KAI in Sacheon. It was officially given the name Boramae (Korean: ???, literally ‘young hawk’ or ‘eyas’). The first test flight is anticipated in 2022, with manufacturing scheduled to begin in 2026. At least 40 aircraft are planned to be delivered by 2028, with South Korea expecting to deploy a total of 120 of the aircraft by 2032. It will also be available for export market. In Indonesia, the KF-X development program is referred to as the IF-X program, the completed aircraft will receive the designation F-33.