Local firms chosen for F-35 repairsA consortium of five Korean defense companies has been selected as the regional component maintenance servicer of U.S.-built F-35 stealth fighters, Korea’s main arms procurement agency said Wednesday.
According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), Ellen Lord, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told the agency that Team ROK, the Korean consortium, was selected to participate in the F-35s Tier II global repair network.
Hanwha Systems, Hanwha Aerospace Systems, Korean Air, LIG Nex1 and Hyundai Glovis are the current members of the consortium. When the bid was submitted, the consortium originally had six members, including Hanwha Corp. and Hanwha Techwin, which later merged to become Hanwha Aerospace.
In 2014, Korea announced its decision to buy 40 F-35As from U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin through the Foreign Military Sales program. Six of the 40 warplanes were handed over to the Korean Air Force in the United States and the first two are scheduled to arrive in Korea next month for deployment.
Defense companies within countries that participated in the shared funding and development of the F-35s or that purchased the fighter jets through the Foreign Military Sales program are eligible to participate in the regional repair network.
According to the DAPA, Tier II servicers are eligible to repair 398 components in 17 areas. The Korean consortium was selected to fix components in avionics, electromechanical and egress areas. In November 2016, the Pentagon selected Tier I service providers for 65 components. At the time, Korean Air was selected as the servicer for ejection seat maintenance. In the future, another selection will be made for Tier III for 310 components.
The selected companies are allowed to repair not only F-35s stationed in Korea but also those operated overseas, except for the United States. They are expected to create profit and jobs in the aviation repair sector.
“The Korean defense industry expects to use this opportunity to upgrade their repair systems to match those in other countries that operate F-35s,” said the DAPA. “They, then, naturally want to participate in the global supply network to secure opportunities for exports.”
BY SER MYO-JA [email@example.com]