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Indonesia responds to S. Korea's fighter jet data theft allegations

Jakarta Globe - February 3, 2024

Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesia recently said that it was looking into accusations launched by South Korea that its engineer had tried to steal technologies related to the KF-21 fighter jet.

The KF-21 is a joint project between South Korea and Indonesia to develop fighter jets.

Two Indonesian engineers – who were dispatched to the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to work on the project – are now undergoing investigation. These engineers had allegedly attempted to save classified data related to the KF-21 on a USB drive.

Investigation is also underway to check whether they had an internal accomplice. South Korea has barred the Indonesian engineers from leaving the country, Seoul's news broadcaster KBS World reported on Friday.

Later that day, Jakarta issued a response, saying they would examine the facts.

"The Indonesian government is currently gathering all the information related to an Indonesian engineer allegedly involved in a case related to the KF-21 fighter jet development with KAI," Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Lalu Muhamad Iqbal said via text.

However, the number of Indonesian engineers under investigation on Lalu's statement differed from what the South Korean media had reported. When asked to confirm the number, Lalu said: "[it's] one engineer."

The Indonesian Embassy in Seoul has also gotten in touch with the Korean Foreign Ministry and the country's relevant institutions.

"The embassy has spoken with the said engineer, and we have confirmed that the person in question is not being detained," Lalu added.

According to the diplomat, Indonesian technicians have been taking part in the joint project since 2016, while saying they are "already aware of the job procedures and rules."

"The KF-21 is a strategic project for both Indonesia and South Korea. The two countries will handle all sorts of problems that arise in this partnership as best as possible," Lalu said.

Aside from the alleged data theft, the KF-21 project is facing another problem: Indonesia's overdue payment. As a partner, Indonesia agreed to bear 20 percent of the costs of approximately 1.7 trillion won ($1.3 billion) in exchange for one prototype and technology transfer to locally manufacture 48 jets.

But Indonesia has only paid 227.2 billion won until January 2019, leaving an accumulated overdue payment of around 1 trillion won, according to KBS World.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-responds-to-s-koreas-fighter-jet-data-theft-allegation