Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and the Indonesia government have signed an agreement yesterday to jointly develop a new South Korean fighter jet, the KF-X, which will be a competitor to the Lockheed Martin F-16 in the global market.
The agreement, described as ‘tentative’ by the Korean media wa signed in Seoul Yesterday. “KAI has completed negotiations and reached an agreement with its Indonesian counterpart over the KF-X development,” KAI vice president Jang Seong-seop said after the signing ceremony, Korean media reported.
Under the deal, Indonesia will bear 20% of the development cost estimated at 8.6 trillion won ($7.4 billion). The plan is to develop the KF-X fighter plane a four-plus generation aircraft whose physical and technical characteristics generally match of the Lockheed Martin F-16.
The KF-X will replace the South Korean Air Force’s aging F-4s and F-5s by 2025. Indonesia will receive some 50 aircraft besides technology.
Korea decided to develop the KF-X on its own after the US government disallowed Lockheed Martin from sharing four critical technologies from the F-16 program with KAI.
The Indonesian parliament has approved a 1.7 trillion won (US$1.4 billion) investment in the KF-X program in exchange for some new technologies and a prototype plane.
The joint project is expected to get started by the end of this year after signing a formal contract with the Defense Program Acquisition Administration.
The KF-X is expected to enter the world market for a light fighter aircraft and will compete with the Lockheed Martin F-16, Saab Gripen, the Boeing F/A- 18 and the Pakistani-Chinese JF-17 Thunder.