S. Korea, Indonesia to enter last-stage talks on overdue payments for fighter project

JAKARTA/SEOUL– South Korea and Indonesia were set to hold what could be the final round of talks in Jakarta on Wednesday to address the latter’s overdue payments for a joint fighter development project, sources said.

Kang Eun-ho, head of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), and other Korean negotiators arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday, as Seoul seeks to squelch lingering doubts over Indonesia’s commitment to the 8.8 trillion-won (US$7.4 billion) project, called KF-X.

Indonesia first agreed to shoulder 20 percent of the new fighter’s development cost in 2010. But it stopped making payments in 2017, with the amount of overdue payments currently standing at 800 billion won.

“We will do our utmost during the negotiations based on mutual trust between South Korea and Indonesia, and their will for cooperation,” Kang told Yonhap News Agency.

Indonesia’s failure to make the payments raised worries it could pull out of the project. Such concerns rose further when it brought its technicians in Korea back to their home country in March last year, citing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a positive sign, however, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto agreed to resume talks with Seoul officials over the overdue payments during a visit here in April, which coincided with an event unveiling a prototype of the country’s first homegrown fighter jet, named the KF-21 Boramae.

In August, a group of Indonesian technicians returned to Korea, raising expectations the joint fighter development program will gain renewed momentum.

During a parliamentary audit last month, DAPA chief Kang expressed confidence the negotiations with Indonesia will be concluded by November.

South Korea has been working on the KF-X project since 2015 to develop an advanced homegrown fighter jet to replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 jets.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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