Korean KF-21 fighter secured a significant sale contract, “evicting” French Rafale?

Since Indonesia lately displayed signals of choosing the Korean KF-21 fighter, the country has rejected France’s offer to sell it 42 Rafale fighters.

Indonesia was reportedly unable to come up with the necessary funds to continue taking part in the joint KF-21 fighter research programme with South Korea a few weeks ago. However, it appears that things are changing quickly. It was verified that Jakarta has paid the $6 million balance owed for the KF-21 programme at the beginning of October 2022. Seoul has a guarantee from Jakarta that a further $33 million will be paid by 2023. Although fewer than 10% of what Jakarta has to invest as a partner in the initiative has been paid or promised, this is still a positive beginning (nearly 561 million USD in Indonesian capital). committed to assisting in a collaborative project with Korea).

Indonesia has stated its plan to invest in new equipment for its air force, thus payments made and the potential to send money to Seoul in the future could be bad news for Dassault Aviation Group and Dassault Rafale fighter jets. When Jakarta announced its intent to purchase 42 of these aircraft at the beginning of the year, the French Rafale fighter received some good news. However, Paris is currently losing control of the situation. The French Rafale fighter lacks stealth technology in comparison to the KF-21, which is a significant shortcoming given Indonesia’s plans to “5th generation” its air force.

Additionally, it is thought that the two aircraft’ avionics systems and air-to-air armaments, particularly the Meteor missile that is anticipated to be integrated into the KF-21 fighter, are comparable. Seoul works more closely with Indonesia than Jakarta, notwithstanding the positive connections between Jakarta and Paris. When Korea made the decision to make design changes in order to satisfy client demands, the T-50 trainer aircraft was already in service with the Indonesian Air Force. Age is the last but not least. The French Rafale is a Cold War-era design that is challenging to modernise, but South Korea offers a fighter with an open architecture that makes it simple to innovate and improve its combat capability.

As Turkey is regarded as one of the primary mediators with the deal, Korea can certainly use this strong strategic cooperation to sway Indonesia’s choice. With Indonesia being a close ally, Turkey and South Korea are working together to produce main battle tanks and warplanes of the next generation. The relationship between Ankara and Paris is also quite tight. None of these are benefits for the French. Indonesia originally intended to purchase a modern fighter from Russia. Jakarta and Moscow agreed to a $1.1 billion deal in 2018 to sell 11 Su-35S fighters.

Due to a shortage of funding, Indonesia terminated the contract in 2021. However, the Russian side claimed that US pressure and the prospect of sanctions were the true reasons why the agreement was terminated. Approximately 10 Su-27 fighters and 10 Su-30 fighters in various versions are currently in service with the Indonesian Air Force. In addition, 36 old F-16 fighter jets that were purchased from the US Although it is unclear whether the deal has been “closed” or not, Russia is attempting to “push” this excess aircraft to Iran after losing the contract to sell Su-35 to Indonesia and Egypt.

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