In early October, Jakarta had paid the KF-21 program US$6 million in overdue fees. The Indonesian government has guaranteed a transfer of US$33 million to Seoul in 2023.

Jakarta’s gains are impressive, despite falling short of the 10% the city must contribute as a program partner. The total budget for the project’s South Korean and Indonesian portions is roughly US$561 million.

The payments that have been made and the plans to send more money to Seoul could be bad news for Dassault Aviation and its best plane, the Dassault Rafale. Indonesia has said that it wants to spend money on new tools for its Air Force. At the beginning of the year, Rafale got some good news when Indonesia said it wanted to buy 42 units. Now, though, that final order is in danger.

Both of the fighters are different and the same at the same time. Even though the Rafale doesn’t have the stealth technology of the KF-21, both fighters have weaker engines than, for example, the Chinese J-20.

The two fighters will have the same avionics and air-to-air weapons. It is also thought that the French Meteor missile will be a part of the KF-21’s ability to fight.

Even though Jakarta and Paris get along well, Seoul is already working with Indonesia more deeply. The Indonesian Air Force already has T-50 trainer planes in use. Indonesia asked one part of South Korea to change so that it could be used in combat.

Korean KF-21
Dassault Rafale

Age is last but not least. The French Rafale was made during the Cold War. 36 years later, South Korea is offering a fighter that is almost the same, but with a new design and an open architecture that will make it easier to keep the plane’s fighting capabilities up-to-date.

Naturally, South Korea may also rely on its strong network of strategic alliances to sway Indonesia’s decision. For this agreement, Turkey could serve as a mediator. The two countries trade with each other.

The new Turkish fighter jet and main battle tank are a collaborative effort between Turkey and South Korea. Furthermore, relations between Turkey and France are tense. The French see none of this as a positive development.

New Indonesian fighter jets were supposed to come from Russia. An agreement to sell 11 Su-35C fighter jets to Indonesia for $1.1 billion was struck between Jakarta and Moscow in 2018.

When Indonesia decided to end the contract in 2021, they cited a lack of funds in the government’s budget as the reason.

However, Russian publications assert that covert US pressure and the prospect of penalties are the underlying reasons for the accord’s collapse.

Currently, the Indonesian Air Force operates a fleet of roughly 20 Russian-made Su-27 and Su-30 fighters. And there are 36 F-16s, the fighting plane of choice. All of these planes were donated to Indonesia in the early 2000s.