Poland Expresses Interest In KF-21 Program


Credit: DAPA

SEOUL–Polish defense prime Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ) is eager to participate in South Korea’s KF-21 fighter program, with a letter of intent expected to be issued soon, South Korea broadcaster MBC has reported. 

This follows a visit by PGZ Board President Sebastian Chwałek to South Korea in April, when he toured the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Hanwha. 

MBC says Poland wants to enter the KF-21 program beginning in 2026, when the aircraft is due to go into production and also the start of the Blk 2 stage. Warsaw and Seoul are also said to be discussing payment terms, especially since Indonesia has not fulfilled its commitments. 

Indonesia is the sole co-development partner of the KF-21 and has contracted to pay KRW 1.7 trillion ($1.29 billion) to South Korea, although that has not been fully paid. 

It is also uncertain how the licensed production of 48 aircraft to Indonesia and technical sharing will proceed should Poland join the program and pay Indonesia’s share. 

In October 2022, an unnamed Polish military official told Aerospace DAILY that the country was interested in purchasing KF-21s and had requested a working meeting with KAI to share technical information. The official added that Poland was also interested in the South Korean-made Cheonryong air-Launched cruise missile and Hycore hypersonic scramjet missile that would be mounted on the KF-21.

Poland became the largest customer of South Korea’s defense systems in 2022 after it entered a multibillion deal to acquire 180 K2 main battle tanks, 212 K9 self-propelled howitzers and 48 FA-50 light fighters.

MBC says that PGZ and the Polish government will soon deliver a letter of intent (LOI) to the South Korean government and DAPA to jointly develop the KF-21. But DAPA said it has yet to receive the LOI and will review it according to its procedures when it arrives. 

Kim Minseok

Kim Minseok covers South Korean defense. He has worked as a journalist for South Korean military magazines Military Review and Defense Times. Mr Kim is also a research fellow at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, a think tank.