Home Asian News The Strategic Impact of Indonesia's KF-21 - The Diplomat

The Strategic Impact of Indonesia’s KF-21 – The Diplomat


On April 9, a prototype of an advanced multi-role fighter jet, the KF-21 Boramae (“hawk” in Korean) was introduced by South Korea with the participation of President Moon Jae. -in and Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. While it was clear Seoul’s decision to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft was due to a desire for self-sufficiency in the defense industry, coupled with national pride, Prabowo’s presence embodied his commitment. Jakarta in the acquisition of the KF-21, thereby further diversifying the Indonesian air fleet to limit its dependence on any foreign supplier. The majority of Indonesian fighters today come from the United States and Russia.

Will Boramae impact the regional strategic status?

Based on publicly available research, the KF-21 is said to be superior to contemporary advanced non-stealth fighters such as the US F-16 or the French Dassault Rafale. Boramae highlights include a larger range, avionics and more advanced electronic warfare capabilities, along with Korean-made Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, has improved target detection and tracking capabilities compared to previous radar technologies, resulting in more effective weapon displacement. Furthermore, the KF-21 is designed to possess basic radar stealth, inferior to official stealth fighters such as the F-35, but has an edge over its competitors. no potential stealth.

When combined with a weapon package that includes infrared-guided air-to-air missiles and advanced radars to shoot down enemy aircraft and air-to-ground ammo including precision missiles and guided bombs. , it can be seen why ordinary observers may deduce that Indonesia is awaiting the processing of orders for 50 KF-21s that could affect the future balance of military air power. in Southeast Asia.

Key scene for KF-21 acquisition

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Using the phrase “arms race” is to get attention, potentially leading to greater media volume and corresponding advertising revenue. However, it is necessary to be wiser and more cautious when analyzing the purchase of national weapons. As for the future Indonesian KF-21s, it can be argued that Jakarta has two major considerations: the expanded territorial defense and the obsolescence of its aircraft fleet, both of which are not alarming. sensational.

With regard to Indonesian airspace, TNI-AU (Indonesian Air Force) has 1,904,569 square kilometers of land to cover and a much larger sovereign airspace over Indonesia’s land and internal waters, which this force needs. patrol. In addition, sometimes security and operations considerations may require missions for Indonesia’s extended maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ). All of this requires a large enough fleet that the TNI-AU is believed to have not, as it currently has only 101 armed aircraft and six maritime patrol aircraft to police or protect the above responsibilities. its large airspace. Furthermore, not all of these airframe are always available or eligible for flight as a part will at any time be serviced or grounded awaiting delivery of spare parts. From this perspective, the TNI-AU’s purchase of 50 Boramae fighters over the next few years does not seem like an unreasonable proposition to maintain national security.

Regarding the obsolescence of the fleet, it should be mentioned that the addition of 50 KF-21s could be intended to replace some or all of the obsolete Indonesian fighters. A quick look at the TNI-AU’s fighter arsenal shows that some of the fighter models are growing long and will become obsolete in the next decade. Examples include the Russian-made Su-27, purchased in 2002 and 2006 (five in total), the US F-16A and F-16B ordered in 1989 (10 still in service). , and the British BAE Hawk Mk 109 and Jet Mk 209 were delivered in 1997 (30 in total in service). If all of these jets were retired due to uneconomical maintenance costs or the old airframe was unsafe, the replacement Boramae fighters would only bring up the TNI-AU’s fighter squadron. 106 units, only increased by 5 units, which is hardly worth the attention of the media.

Operational issues related to the modernization of TNI-AU

Finally, there are tangible and intangible issues related to air force readiness and efficiency, which most journalists never consider. Intangible factors such as theoretical efficiency and pilot quality are difficult to measure, while tangible aspects such as availability of spare parts and adequate arsenal of compatible weapons are rarely investigated by the press.

With reference to doctrine, they refer to guidelines on how to best use military forces to achieve set goals, while pilot readiness is often judged on a number of Factors such as annual flight hours, performance in international military drills and air force combat experience in question. The Inasmuch is a classified, generally classified military doctrine, with no means of testing a validated TNI-AU theory; therefore it is prudent to decline to comment on the effectiveness of Indonesian air tactics and strategies.

For the pilots, competence should not be underestimated but it should be noted that the TNI-AU’s real-world operational experience only included anti-insurgent missions against domestic rebels, not domestic rebels. Works against the fighting forces of other nations. Also, it is not known whether the Indonesian pilots will get the equivalent of the NATO air force’s flight hours (100-150 hours / year), but it should be noted that specific issues such as availability of Spare parts can affect flight capabilities to the point that fleets can be grounded, forcing pilots to resort to ground-based simulators. For example, in 2005, the logistical deprivation from the US embargo resulted in minimal to no performance on US-made Indonesian assets such as the F-16 and A-4. .

Ultimately, the influence of the air force depends a considerable part on the arsenal of missiles and bombs transported by aircraft. Regardless of the quality of such weapons, the open source research revealed no information about the number of aerial weapons maintained by TNI-AU. But it is worth noting that they buy both Russian and American weapons, which leads to greater complexity and stress on the logistics system, which may hinder the operational readiness and potential of the force. air Force. Since the KF-21 was intended to use both US and European missiles, the combination of an Indonesian Boramae fleet could cost too much of the TNI-AU’s supply network.

Logical versus hype analysis

If anything, the sale of the KF-21 is an exercise in military diplomacy, strategy and industry by the Moon administration in support of Seoul’s “New South Policy”. From Jakarta’s point of view, the Boramae acquisition was probably intended to carry out a timely defense modernization for the TNI-AU while maintaining the status quo national interests. As a result, overly enthusiastic commentators should be encouraged to exercise restraint, especially when they have little understanding of the national imperatives of mid-tier powers in the region, and restrictions or lateral actions. in their army.

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