The Jakarta Post
Indonesia and South Korea are expected to reach an agreement on the second phase of the joint development and production of the KFX/ IFX fighter jet, a step that will mark the epitome of the two countries' strategic partnership, the South Korean envoy said.
The three phases of developing the KFX/IFX fighter jet are technology development (TD), engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) and joint production and marketing.
The TD phase was concluded in December 2012, which saw a number of engineers from state-owned airframer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI) and officers from the Indonesian Air Force going to South Korea to discuss a number of development issues with their South Korean counterparts.
South Korean Ambassador to Indonesia Cho Tai-young said that negotiations on the project had intensified, raising hopes that an agreement-in-principal would be reached soon.
'If the negotiation runs smoothly, it could be concluded by next month,' Cho said when asked the exact time for the agreement.
Cho, who assumed his post in July this year, noted that the two countries had developed a very close relationship in defense industry cooperation since the 1970s. Therefore, the jet fighter project marked the epitome of the Indonesian-South Korean strategic partnership as the two countries had committed to design and develop a whole new jet fighter.
'I will try hard during my term here to realize what has been planned,' Cho told The Jakarta Post during an interview ahead of South Korean's Oct. 2 National Day.
The two countries signed a letter of intent (LoI) to develop the KFX/ IFX on March 9, 2009. The agreement was signed in 2012 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his then South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak.
Indonesia will pay up to 20 percent of US$ 5 billion project, while the South Korean government and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) will pay 60 percent and 20 percent respectively.
The KFX/IFX fighter is envisioned as a next-generation fighter aircraft for 2020, designed as a single-seat, twin-engine jet fighter with capabilities below the USmade Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, but surpassing Lockheed's F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Beside the KFX/IFX project, the two countries will keep exchanging information about weapon systems and defense products to find future opportunities for cooperation.
Cho mentioned the Third Defense Industry Cooperation Committee meeting in Jakarta, when Indonesian and Korean defense companies presented their products and discussed future cooperation.
The South Korean government, Cho added, had a deeper understanding of the Indonesian policy on defense industry promotion.
This is the reason why Seoul would like to focus on transfer of technology and joint development programs like the KFX/IFX. After the completion of the KFX/IFX development, both countries may establish a joint venture. 'There are a lot of possibilities,' he said.
South Korea has developed various weapon systems that are verified by the country's armed forces. It has also imported weapons from advanced countries.
In this regard, South Korea could assist Indonesia on various issues, including sharing experiences in order to minimize trial-and-error with various weapon systems.
'I would like to say that the Republic of Korea is the best partner for Indonesia,' he said.
On the procurement of weapon systems, Cho said South Korea bought eight CN-235 medium transport airplanes made by PT DI for the South Korean Air Force. So far, there has been no plan to procure more from Indonesia.
'But we will continue the weaponry defense system cooperation,' he added.
The Korean Coast Guard has also received four CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft from PT DI.
On the building of three Chang Bogo-class submarines, Cho said, it would be conducted in South Korea and Indonesian technicians will go there for training.
Engineers from state-owned shipyard PT PAL Indonesia are being sent to South Korea to prepare for the building of the third submarine, which is planned to be done at PT PAL in Surabaya.
Â» RI, S. Korea are set to reach agreement to soon start the second phase of KFX/IFX jet fighter program
Â» Both countries are also involved in other programs, such as building three Chang Bogo-class submarines