South Korea, Indonesia partner on production of fighter jets . . .
On Friday, South Korea unveiled its homegrown supersonic fighter jet, the KF-21 (‘Boramae’), during a rollout ceremony with the South Korean president and Indonesian defence minister. The KF-21 was developed through the C$9.9-billion KF-X/IF-X project launched in 2016 to replace the South Korean Air Force’s F4 and F5 fighters. South Korea entered into a partnership with Indonesia in 2010 in which Jakarta holds a 20 per cent share of the project in exchange for 50 of the jets. The new jets should complete all tests by 2026 and be deployed for service by 2032.
Controversies, concerns around the collaboration and arms race . . .
According to statistics from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, South Korea was the 10th top arms exporter in 2015-19 and has increasingly become a key player for the military industry in the region. The successful rollout of Boramae in collaboration with Jakarta – despite concerns about delayed payments and domestics politics – underscores Seoul’s role in continued militarization in the region against the backdrop of the U.S.-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue initiatives and rising tension around China. In addition to the KF-21 collaboration with Indonesia, Seoul recently closed arms deals with the Philippines, Thailand, and India.
Growth of Asia’s aerospace market . . .
Seoul recently announced that more than 800 domestic and foreign companies have collaborated with Korean Aerospace Industries, and more than 12,000 new jobs in the sector were created domestically from 2016 to 2020. The KF-X/IF-X project is expected to create more than 100,000 additional jobs in the coming years. Seoul also launched the ‘3rd Basic Plan for the Development of South Korean Aerospace Industries’ this March, investing C$129 million in the aerospace sector. Canada has a strong aerospace industry that contributed C$25 billion and added 213,000 jobs to the country’s GDP in 2018. The growth of the aerospace market in Asia – both commercial and military – presents both opportunities and threats to Canada’s aerospace sector.