Korean officials probe Telegram channel allegedly selling fighter jet technology

DAPA / Wikipedia

The South Korean military, police and the National Intelligence Service have launched a joint investigation into a Telegram channel that claims to be “selling technology documents” of the KF-21 fighter jet and the KUH-1 Surion helicopter, the Korea Times reported.

Both aircraft were manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), a South Korean aerospace and defense company founded in 1999.

The Telegram channel reportedly posted in February 2024 that it had “collaborators within the military and the Agency for Defense Development,” and stated that it is selling documents related to Korea’s first home-developed utility helicopter, the Surion. 

The channel also uploaded photos presumed to be of some helicopter parts.

Telegram is a messaging app launched in 2013. Unlike other messaging platforms, Telegram allows group chats with up to 200,000 members and permits users to share files of up to 2GB each, supporting a wide range of file types.

The channel also alleged that it was able to secure “technology documents of the KF-21” which it will sell “after finishing our own cross-check process”. The channel’s operator also said it has documents related to the Freedom Shield joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States.

On June 13, 2024, it was reported that the KF-21 fighter jet is facing financial pressure due to reduced contributions from Indonesia.  

Indonesia’s reduced payment of $437 million, much less than the $1.16 billion initially pledged, has raised concerns about South Korea shouldering the financial burden for the project, Seok Jong-gun, chief of South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), said in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo. 

DAPA still aims to stick to its deadline of 2026 to complete the KF-21. 

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