CHEONGJU AIR BASE, South Korea—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Far East District (FED), provided unique support to the Republic of Korea (ROK) Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) bed down effort.
One of the main responsibilities for this project was for FED to serve as technical advisor to the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office (JPO) and ROK Defense Installations Agency (DIA) on the engineering design and construction of new facilities in support of the F35 bed down.
The F-35 Lightning II fighter jet is a single-seat, single engine fighter aircraft designed for many missions with advanced, integrated sensors built into every aircraft. Missions that were traditionally performed by small numbers of specialized aircraft, such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and electronic attack missions can now be executed by a squadron of F-35s, bringing new capabilities to many allied forces.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency the F-35 provides the ROK with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. Forces.
Ensuring that this mission critical aircraft has support facilities is key to the overall mission success of the US and ROK forces. This project falls in line with the district’s mission to deliver engineering solutions in the Republic of Korea and to secure our allies and our nation. FED helped educate the ROK on security issues and procedures, established and coordinated a design review process, and provided onsite reporting to JPO during the construction.
According to a Programs and Project Management Division (PPMD) representative this mission is unique in the fact that it’s the first time USACE has supported the FMS process quite in this way before.
FED also served as JPO’s forward presence for construction activities at Cheongju and ROKAF headquarters. FED provided two construction representatives five days a week, a project engineer once a week, and a resident engineer once a month. Other FED support includes a project manager, design manager, chief, and construction division and quality assurance branch personnel.
The contract amount is $2.1 million and construction has taken place over a four-year period. Phase I of the project at Area 6 began Nov. 2016 and was completed in June 2018. Phase II began July 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by 2021.
The construction includes a total of 65 facilities. Some of the types of facilities constructed during this project include hangars, fuel parking lots, training center, storage facilities and squadron facilities.
Chi, YongChae, a Central Resident Office project engineer, is currently the project engineer responsible for the completion of this massive project. Chi went into further detail about the overall support the FED provided to the ROK Joint Strike Fighter F-35 bed down.
“We provided basic design and specification support to the Korea Design Company,” said Chi. “The FED field team conducted quality assurance inspections at Area I and monitored the construction site and supported on site. We also attended weekly meetings with the ROKAF and construction management and monitored the status, provided support and advice and used the inspection tool from the U.S. Corps of Engineer inspection guide.”
During the initial phase of the project, from December 2016 to February 2017, FED was to provide technical assistance and advice to ROKAF for their construction project of a small SAP room and collateral security area in the ROKAF headquarters in Daejon. The support requirement was for only two or three days at Daejon.
Ensuring that the construction helps the ROK forces fulfill their mission was at the forefront of this construction project. Chi stated that the FED supports the basic design and specification, and USACE inspection tool.
“The contractor (Daewoo) and CM did outstanding projects and arrived FA-35 AT Area I on time,” said Chi. “Area 2 is still under construction for taxiway and access road around hangers.”
Chi went on to state that the ROK Air Force occupied security control buildings (SQ, L and AL facilities) on Jan 2020.
Providing direct support to the construction team is a part of Chi’s responsibilities, and he explained some of the insight he provided when joining this project.
“I checked the project site, and took current construction photos and reported to JPO weekly, and I attended weekly meetings with ROKAF, the contractor and CM.
Chi was also tasked to provide technical advice to DIA and ROKAF during their preparation of required documentation (checklists, shop drawings, photographs, quality control management, and construction progress) for US government certification and accreditation of SAPF areas.
Also, Chi and his team is responsible for providing limited construction surveillance technical advice to DIA and ROKAF for all other facilities (non SAPF and non-collateral secure areas) and provide a brief summary of findings/ recommendation to DIA, with a copy furnished to JPO.
In the initial draft memo, FED is assigned to provide a written report via email to JPO on construction activities every two weeks.
Discussing pending issues with JPO was a large component within Chi’s scope as he wanted to ensure that issues could be resolved and not cause a major delay in construction.
Chi described each support agency and their involvement with this four-year project.
“The DIA is the main customer and they coordinate with airfield contrail office security, site release and status control,” said Chi. “They also control the CM directly.”
He went on to state that JPO is the main operational office during construction, and that they check the construction status and check the high security inspection at SQ building and coordinate with Northrop Airplane Company.
The technical support which the district QAB provides after inspections, has helped improve other areas within various stages of the project.
“FED QAB team checked the entire construction inspection at Area I in 2019, based on the technical support, the improved construction electricity and arch work at Area 2,” said Chi.
This project has kept the vision of the district to be the trusted engineers on the peninsula as focused professionals delivering quality, engineering excellence, and driven to exceed expectations.