"The project's feasibility study period and contract schedule have not yet been confirmed," the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a statement on March 23. The DAPA added that the agency will discuss with related authorities to start them in a timely manner. According to South Korean media outlets, the agency is considering the deployment of KF-21 in 2026.
The KF-21 project was launched to manufacture 120 fighter jets that would replace the country's aging fleet of U.S.-made F-4 and F-5 fighters. After the first KF-21 flight in July 2022, some 140 test flights were carried out. Earlier this month, the fighter jet equipped with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars successfully made its flight. ASEAS radars are capable of detecting a target object and collecting various information such as distance and speed to the target area. The fighter's maximum speed is Mach 1.81 with its range standing at 2,900 kilometers.
The project, led by Korea Aerospace Industries, the sole aircraft maker in South Korea, started in 2010 in collaboration with Indonesia to develop an advanced multi-role fighter jet. Initially, Indonesia agreed to pay about 1.6 trillion won ($1.3 billion) by 2026 in exchange for a number of fighter planes to be manufactured in the Southeast Asian country with technology transfers. However, Indonesia has failed to pay 800 billion won, part of its 20 percent share of the total development costs.
The country resumed the payment in November 2022. At an annual media briefing held in Seoul in February 2023, Indonesian Ambassador to South Korea Gandi Sulistiyanto told reporters that his government will continue to participate in the project as the financial problem was resolved.
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