A team of legal and aviation experts has been deployed to South Korea to discuss copyright issues regarding the joint-development of a KFX jet aircraft program between Jakarta and Seoul.
“We should be very clear from the very beginning with regard to Indonesia’s role in this project, because we intend to be able to mass-produce the jet in the future,” Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. I Wayan Midhio told journalists over the weekend.
He added that clear and specific arrangements over the country’s role in the project would pave the way for the participation of domestic defense industry.
“We could then focus on building and developing parts for the jets by using our own domestic defense industry,” he said.
Observer Dudi Sudibyo said he was optimistic Indonesia would face no difficulties in manufacturing parts to be used in the jets’ construction. “Indonesia is actually quite advanced in building aircraft parts,” Dudi told The Jakarta Post.
The government, however, needed to go the extra mile to prepare the local defense industry to ensure the project’s sustainability, he said.
“A proportional amount of funds must be prepared to be used as capital to develop the domestic industry. A series of supporting regulations must also be enacted to protect the industry,” he said.
Executive Director of the Institute for Defense, Security and Peace Studies, Mufti Makarim however, criticized the joint production decision as “premature”, saying he doubted the country was prepared for such a project.
“We are currently living with the fact that our domestic defense industry is near collapse and lacking financial support. Not to mention that, to this day, the government has never come up with a clear plan or strategy on how to revive the industry,” he said.
He said the government should secure political support from the House of Representatives to back the project.
“We should take one step at a time in order to achieve the best results in the future,” Mufti said.
Initiated during South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Indonesia last year, the KFX jet aircraft joint project aimed to fulfill the country’s need to improve its air force. Indonesia will contribute 20 percent of the initial capital of the project or around US$8 billion.
In order to meet the minimum essential forces quota, Indonesia needs to add three more squadrons or 24 jet aircraft.
As many as five jet prototypes are expected to be delivered before 2020.