A mock-up of the S Korean KFX Jet displayed for the first time at the ADEX 2019 event in Seoul has raised eyebrows as it does not have the moniker of its Indonesian partner.
The 4.5 generation fighter jet’s prototype is scheduled for first flight in 2021. The mock-up displayed at ADEX is shown to be equipped with IRST ( Infrared Search and Track ) pod, air-to-air missiles, laser-guided bombs and external fuel tanks. No landing gear could be seen.
The KFX mockup shows the logo of the South Korean Air Force and Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) while the Indonesian partner’s name- PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI) is missing. Earlier scale models displayed at air shows had KFX/IFX either on the model or as a backdrop.
At ADEX, KAI officials did not disclose when the full-scale model would transform into a prototype but some expressed optimism that the 2021 deadline for first flight would be met. As of now only the preliminary design phase has been completed. Its objective was to ensure to ensure that the configuration of the KFX/IFX fighter aircraft was in conformity with the requirements of the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) and the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).
Following a joint development agreement signed in 2015, some 168 units of aircraft are to be produced with South Korea receiving 120 aircraft while Indonesia will get 48 units. Jakarta would have to pay 20% development cost in exchange of three prototypes and the right to manufacture the 48 jets in Indonesia.
However, Indonesia has ran up an arrears of 230 billion won (US$200 million) by skipping milestone payments as part of its participation in the South Korean-led KF-X project, a spokesperson for the S Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), Kang Hwan-seok had told reporters in Seoul on October 22, 2018.
Further Indonesia has ‘stayed away’ from the aircraft development program since the latter half of 2017, calling for the renegotiation on the terms of contract, the spokesman had said. Indonesian officials later confirmed that they wanted a re-negotiation so that a part of the payment could be made in commodities.
There are also concerns that denial of four crucial technologies by the United States relating to radar and fire control system among others would delay the project as South Korea has vowed to develop these on its own. In addition, some reports said that the project cost had exceeded original estimates and Indonesia was not keen to increase its financial commitment.