Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea -- The 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base is receiving new aircraft flow-through shelters. The project started in May 2016 with a cost of $30 million.
“Each shelter is a protected area to concurrently load munitions, hot pit refuel and service aircraft to meet the minimum times required to support a viable close-air support and defensive counter-air alert program,” said Staff Sgt. Xavier Gemba, 8th Civil Engineering Squadron construction inspector.
The new shelters will allow aircraft to have a faster turnaround and less time in the hardened aircraft shelter for maintenance.
“Without the flows, aircraft would need to taxi back to the HAS, shut down, and get pushed back into the HAS before any maintenance, fueling or weapon loading could take place,” said Maj. Curtis Switzer, 35th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. “The process of shutting jets down and pushing them into the HAS can take a lot of time. With the flows, a jet can taxi in, get fuel and then continue to fly.”
A project of this size requires a lot of close management. Gemba coordinates with multiple organizations the project impacts.
“It takes a ton of coordination, especially with airfield management. Airfield management has to ensure that the construction does not severely affect day-to-day operations. They have overseen the contractors working in a restricted area whilst also ensuring that the taxiways remain FOD (foreign object debris) free.” said Switzer. “The construction has affected where jets can taxi, which has an impact on the ground controllers. It is a joint effort between multiple on-base agencies, which will definitely improve our ability to carry out sustained operations.”
Flexibility and communication are crucial when attempting large assignments that could affect other projects across the base.
“In April, we will have roughly 1,500 trucks bringing in concrete, about 100 trucks per day.” said Gemba. “We are having a new gate installed, just for those trucks, and it passes through another project, so we have to coordinate with them and security forces as well.”
The structures will not only improve the 35th’s mission, but other squadrons on Kunsan as well.
“Any squadron at Kunsan will be able to use them,” said Switzer. “Based on their location, they are suited for and would primarily be used by 35th’s jets during major operations. During standard training missions, both squadrons will share a set of flows to alleviate multiple ground crews.”
“This ability to quickly refuel jets, dramatically increases our ability to carry out multiple sorties whilst also providing protection,” said Switzer.
The project is scheduled to be complete May 2019.