Indonesia monitors probe on KF-21 jet data leak against two engineers

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Indonesia monitors probe on KF-21 jet data leak against two engineers

File - Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Ferrel 'Venom' Rigonald (left), and Park Ji Won of the Korea Aerospace Industry (KAI) test the KF-21 Boramae No. 4 (XFB1) fighter jet at Sacheon AFB, South Korea, on June 2, 2023. (ANTARA/HO-Dinas Penerangan TNI AU/nbl)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government is monitoring an investigation by South Korean authorities regarding the alleged involvement of two Indonesian engineers in the theft of information about KF-21 Boramae fighter jet technology, an official said on Friday.

Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Friday that the Indonesian Embassy in Seoul is communicating with the South Korean Foreign Ministry and several relevant institutions to gather more information about the case.

“The Indonesian Embassy in Seoul has also communicated with the Indonesian engineers in question, who (are currently in South Korea and) have confirmed that they have not been detained,” he informed.

He said that Indonesian engineers have been involved in the fighter jet's development, a joint Indonesia-South Korea project, since 2016, and both sides understand all regulations and working procedures related to the project.

“The KF-21 project is a strategic project for Indonesia and South Korea. Both countries will handle any issue occurring during the development as properly as possible,” the spokesperson added.

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) earlier accused two Indonesian engineers of attempting to leak technical data on the fighter jet. They are now under investigation and banned from leaving South Korea.

According to South Korean authorities the two engineers were arrested last January after they were caught trying to transfer KF-21 development data to a USB drive while working on the project at Korea Aerospace Industry (KAI).

A DAPA official said that the investigation against them is focused on identifying the specific document the engineers allegedly tried to leak. The official further added that the USB drive contained ordinary documents instead of data relevant to strategic technology that could potentially violate South Korea’s laws on military secrecy or defense industry protection.

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KF-21 Boramae is a joint Indonesia-South Korea project valued at US$8 billion. Through the collaboration, both countries will produce 120 fighter jets for South Korea and 48 jets for Indonesia.

The project is expected to benefit Indonesia through the transfer of technology and, thereby, enable it to break into the global market. According to the agreement in 2014, Indonesia has to pay 20 percent of the project’s cost. However, due to state budget constraints, it has yet to pay the cost.