UAE buys Indonesia’s share and becomes part of the KF-21 program

The United Arab Emirates [UAE] is moving towards increasing the combat capabilities of its air force. Sources say the UAE is becoming part of South Korea’s KF-21 Boramae fifth-generation stealth fighter program.

According to @mason_8718 on Twitter, the UAE will pay Indonesia’s share. recalls that Indonesia was initially part of the South Korean KF-21 program.

In October 2022, it was confirmed that Jakarta had already paid US$6 million in outstanding KF-21 program debt. The Indonesian government has promised Seoul that another US$33 million will be transferred in 2023.

Watch: KF-21 Boramae fighter armed with 4 METEORs flew for the first time
Photo credit: YouTube

Promising steps from Jakarta, although what has been paid and promised is less than the 10 percent that Jakarta has to invest as a partner in the program. Nearly 561 million dollars is the participation of Indonesia in the joint project with South Korea.

Strategic partnership

Serial production of the KF-21 is expected to begin next year. The UAE hopes to acquire a quantity of this stealth combat aircraft in the coming years, although there is no word yet on how many the Middle Eastern kingdom will want.

However, Abu Dhabi is familiar with some of the South Korean weapons technology. In recent years, the UAE has acquired advanced Korean weapons such as the M-SAM Block-II interceptor and the Chunmoo, etc. Also, Seoul and Abu Dhabi are working on joint projects at the moment. It is this good relationship that is part of the reason why Seoul agreed to accept Abu Dhabi into the program.

It is noteworthy, as remembers, that a pivotal moment occurred at the summit in 2023. The nations of South Korea and the UAE ratified their commitment to enhancing their ongoing “special strategic partnership”. They achieved this pledge through the signing of 40 conspicuous memoranda of understanding, thus propelling it to the pinnacle of collaboration. A monumental investment of $30 billion was pledged to Korean corporations encompassing areas of nuclear power, energy, hydrogen, and defense.

KF-21 is gaining popularity

The South Korean fighter is increasingly beginning to increase its portfolio with potential customers. Apart from South Korea, Indonesia, and the UAE, Poland is the first European country to show interest in the fighter.

To fortify NATO’s eastern flank, Poland proactively raised its defense expenditure, allocating four percent of its GDP. This strategic move further involves the procurement of two additional squadrons of multi-role fighter jets. Highlighting the global spectrum of this endeavor, the contenders for this impending deal stem primarily from the United States and South Korea, specifically the F-35 and F-15EX models from the former, and the KF-21 Boramae from the latter.

Polish sources have repeatedly suggested that Warsaw is interested in sharing technology with South Korea specifically on the KF-21 Boramae project. There was even talk that Poland could also become part of the program. There is logic in these claims, as Poland invests billions of its defense budget in the purchase of Korean weapons platforms, such as the KA-50 light attack aircraft or the order of 1,000 K2 Black Panther tanks.

The UAE needs such an aircraft

KF-21 stealth fighter is getting closer to the European market
Photo credit: Twitter

The UAE is eager to acquire a next-generation fighter jet for several reasons. Firstly, as a country that values its national security, having a technologically advanced fighter jet is crucial to maintaining a strong defense capability.

With the ever-evolving nature of warfare, the UAE needs to stay ahead in terms of military technology to deter potential threats and protect its interests.

Acquiring a next-generation fighter jet would enhance the UAE’s military capabilities and enable it to effectively respond to various security challenges in the region. The fighter jet’s advanced features, such as stealth capabilities, advanced avionics, and superior firepower, would provide the UAE with a significant advantage in aerial combat situations.

Furthermore, possessing a next-generation fighter jet would also serve as a symbol of prestige and influence for the UAE. As a country that strives to be a regional leader and a global player, having advanced military assets demonstrates its commitment to maintaining a strong defense posture and its ability to project power beyond its borders.

In addition, the acquisition of a next-generation fighter jet would contribute to the UAE’s defense industry and technological development. By investing in advanced military technology, the UAE can foster innovation, research, and development within its own defense sector, which can have positive spillover effects on other industries and contribute to the country’s overall economic growth.

KF-21 briefly

The KF-21 Boramae is a next-generation multi-role fighter aircraft developed by South Korea. It is also known as the Korean Fighter Experimental [KF-X] program. The goal of the KF-21 is to replace the aging fleet of F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft in the Republic of Korea Air Force [ROKAF].

Korea ignited both F414 engines of its stealth KF-21 Boramae
Photo credit: ADN

In terms of armament, the KF-21 Boramae is equipped with an internal weapons bay capable of carrying a variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. It can carry beyond-visual-range missiles, air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship missiles, and precision-guided munitions. The specific armament configuration can vary depending on the mission requirements.

The operational range of the KF-21 Boramae is estimated to be around 2,900 kilometers [1,800 miles]. This range allows the aircraft to conduct long-range missions and perform air superiority, ground attack, and reconnaissance missions effectively. The KF-21’s range is further enhanced by its advanced fuel-efficient engines and aerodynamic design.

KF-21 capabilities

Stealth capabilities are a key feature of the KF-21 Boramae. The aircraft incorporates advanced stealth technologies, including a low-observable design, radar-absorbent materials, and internal weapon carriage.

These features reduce the aircraft’s radar cross-section, making it harder to detect and track enemy radars. The KF-21’s stealth capabilities enhance its survivability and allow it to penetrate enemy defenses more effectively.

The KF-21 Boramae is powered by two General Electric F414-GE-400K afterburning turbofan engines. These engines provide the necessary thrust for the aircraft’s high-performance capabilities.

The F414 engines are known for their reliability, fuel efficiency, and ability to operate in various environmental conditions. They enable the KF-21 to achieve the supersonic speeds and maneuverability required for air combat scenarios.


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