UAE to Replace Indonesia in South Korean KF-21 Project: Rumour or Fact?

  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 01:26 PM, September 17, 2023
  • 2575
UAE to Replace Indonesia in South Korean KF-21 Project: Rumour or Fact?
South Korean KF-21 jet

Rumours are afoot that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has offered to cooperate with South in developing the KF-21 'Boramae' 4.5 generation fighter jet by replacing Indonesia which is said to behind on its payment schedule as part of its contribution to the program.
Multiple South Korean defense watchers tweeted over the weekend that the UAE has communicated to Seoul of its desire to join the KF-21 project by taking over Indonesia's 20% share of the project or even joining in as a third participant. However, this news has not been confirmed by either of the parties.
Nevertheless there seems to be some smoke to the fire. The continued participation of Indonesia in the KF-21 project appears to be in doubt following its commitment to buy Rafale jets for which it has already made a down payment besides a recent memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Boeing to procure F-15 fighter in future.

UAE to Replace Indonesia in South Korean KF-21 Project: Rumour or Fact?
F-35 Jet

Bad experience with F-35 acquisition
After its pull-out from negotiations with the United States regarding procurement if of F-35 stealth jets, the UAE has been on the lookout for purchase of advanced fighter jets. Besides, as part of a policy shift by Abu Dhabi, it wants to be a part of the development process in future arms purchases. The KF-21 offers it a path to obtain fifth genertion technologies without having to endure the United States' political arm-twisting as it did during the F-35 negotiations.
The UAE's Edge Group has been active in locating international partners for joint technology development and already has several projects under its belt.

UAE to Replace Indonesia in South Korean KF-21 Project: Rumour or Fact?
South Korea exported the M-SAM II to the UAE

Deepening defense ties between Seoul, Abu Dhabi
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and the UAE’s Tawazun Council, which is in charge of defense acquisitions for the country, concluded a defense industry cooperation MoU in Abu Dhabi in February this year.
According to press release by DAPA, “This MoU cements the ‘special strategic partnership’ between South Korea and the UAE, and is expected to contribute to enhancing substantive defense industry cooperation between the countries’ respective defense acquisition agencies.”

A separate MOU was signed on bilateral cooperation on the development of a multi-role transport aircraft.

Given this background, and the fact that the KF-21 project has been making rapid progress towards limited series production, it is quite understandable if the UAE has an interest in the future Korean fighter jet.

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