By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Indonesia will this week launch their partnership for Seoul's project to develop new stealth fighter jets, local procurement officials said Monday.
According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), defense and procurement officials from the two countries will mark the beginning of their partnership in an opening ceremony of their new joint research center on Tuesday in Daejeon, some 160 kilometers south of Seoul. Noh Dae-rae, head of DAPA, and Eris Herryanto, secretary general of the Indonesian defense ministry, will attend the event, the DAPA said.
The partnership calls for Indonesia to shoulder 20 percent of early development costs, or US$10 million, for South Korea's KF-X project. Indonesia will also send some 30 researchers to join about 100 South Korean researchers to work on the joint development project over the next two years.
The two countries signed a preliminary deal last year in which Indonesia agreed to acquire about 50 KF-X fighters in exchange for picking up costs and jointly producing and marketing new fighter jets. The formal agreement was reached in April this year.
"Since initiating diplomatic ties in 1973, South Korea and Indonesia have maintained friendly ties in many areas," Noh said in a DAPA statement. "In particular, the KF-X project has been made possible thanks to our consistent exchange and cooperation in the defense industry and defense procurement. It will be a strategic project that will be responsible for the development of defense industries and national security in both countries."
South Korea's Air Force has been pursuing the KF-X project since 2000 to replace its aging F-4/5 fighter jets with locally produced aircraft equipped with stealth capabilities by 2020. A prototype for the homegrown fighter jet will be selected by 2012, according to the DAPA.
In May this year, Indonesia agreed to purchase 16 of South Korea's T-50 Golden Eagle trainer jets, marking the first South Korean export of the supersonic jets.
Then in July, a South Korean shipbuilder was picked as among the final candidates to export submarines to Indonesia in a project worth about $1 billion.
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