SEOUL, Jan. 7 (Korea Bizwire) - South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) said Thursday that it has signed a formal deal to jointly develop its next-generation fighter plane with Indonesia.
The cost sharing agreement reached in Jakarta between KAI and Indonesia’s defense ministry calls for Jakarta to foot 20 percent of the cost in the development of the Korean Fighter Experimental (KF-X) program.
The company also signed a second work assignment contract with its Indonesian counterpart, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), outlining the future division of labor.’
“The contract effectively means all preparation for investment and division of labor related to the plane’s development is concluded,” the aerospace company said.
Starting in April, Indonesia will pay for 1 percent of the program, with its contribution to rise above 2 percent from 2017 onwards, it said. Overall, the Southeast Asian country will inject some 1.6 trillion won (US$1.33 billion) into the projected 8.7 trillion-won program.
KAI said PTDI will send 100 engineers to South Korea in May so they can take part in the structural design of the new aircraft and play a part in the various stages of development. U.S.-based Lockheed Martin will also take part in the development by providing aviation-related technologies and expertise.
Once the plane is built, Indonesia will get one prototype and various technical data and information.
The KF-X planes referred to as the Indonesian Fighter Experimental by Jakarta will be a twin-engine, 4.5 generation multirole fighter aimed at replacing existing aircraft in the inventory of the two air forces. In South Korea, it will take over the role of the aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 fighters, with the country also eyeing the export market.
Seoul, which ordered 120 planes, said it wants to get the planes in service by 2025 and wants to sell some 600 units to other countries. Under the IF-X program, Indonesia wants to get 50 planes.
“Successful development of the KF-X will expand bilateral ties between South Korea and Indonesia in the areas of national defense and economic cooperation,” KAI President Ha Sung-yong said.
Ever since an understanding was reached with Indonesia on systems development on Dec. 28, the company has shifted its resources to move forward with the KF-X program, he said.