By Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, Dec. 12 -- The defense chiefs of South Korea and Indonesia on Thursday pledged efforts to move forward a joint project to develop a next-generation fighter jet, the Seoul ministry said.
Indonesia is in arrears on its payment obligations for the KF-X project, which would see South Korea developing fighter aircraft with its own technology. The Southeast Asian country joined the project to procure aircraft for its air force and advance its aerospace industry.
"As cooperation in defense industry fields, including the KF-X project, is a symbol of the two countries' strong relationship of trust, the two ministers agreed to make joint efforts to enhance their defense ties in a mutually beneficial way," Seoul's defense ministry said in a release after a meeting between Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his Indonesian counterpart, Prabowo Subianto, in Jakarta.
Jeong arrived in the Indonesian capital earlier in the day for a two-day visit. He flew in from Australia after wrapping up a five-day trip there.
During the meeting, the two sides also discussed the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and in Asia, as well as ways to deepen bilateral defense ties, the ministry added.
Indonesia agreed to shoulder 20 percent of the development cost of the 8.8 trillion-won (US$7.36 billion) project, but has failed to pay the full 301 billion won it was supposed to pay by the end of September, according to data from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). So far, it has paid 272.2 billion won.
South Korea launched the fighter jet project in 2016 and aims to complete it by 2026. Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI), the country's sole aircraft manufacturer, has been building a prototype that is expected to be ready in 2021, according to the arms procurement agency.